Reference Work Entry

Comprehensive Guide to Autism

pp 1259-1283

Lipid Signalling in the Pathology of Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Christine WongAffiliated withSchool of Kinesiology and Health Science, Neuroscience Diploma Program, Faculty of Health, York University
  • , Dorota Anna CrawfordAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, York University, Faculty of Health Email author 


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) result from multifaceted deficits and manifest differently in every individual. The developmental abnormalities of ASDs could be a consequence of genetic aberrations, environmental stressors, or interactions between the two during critical periods of neurodevelopment. Increasing attention has been devoted to investigating lipid signalling molecules since lipids play pivotal roles in the development and function of the human brain and body by acting as regulatory molecules that modulate growth and maintenance. Growing evidence supports the idea that altered fatty acid metabolic pathways may be involved in the pathogenesis of autism and contribute to the variable expression of autism-related traits. This chapter provides an overview of the abnormalities associated with the synthesis of lipid signalling metabolites in individuals with ASDs due to genetic and environmental factors, including dietary lipid imbalances, oxidative stress, and immunological triggers. In particular, the deficits associated with the lipid metabolic pathway for prostaglandin biosynthesis are discussed in further detail. The existing literature provides compelling evidence for the contribution of altered lipid neurobiology to the pathology of ASDs and reveals potential molecular mechanisms that may be important for the development of novel treatments and interventions.