Antibodies To GABA-A Receptor Subunits Unlock Some Of The Secrets Of Autism

Wed, 01/20/2010 - 10:00

Autism is a condition which demands more research - even if some autistic people do not want their condition to be ‘cured’, most would like some of their symptoms to be alleviated.

Fatemi and colleagues (J Autism Dev Disord. 2009, 39(2) pp. 223–230) subjected brain tissue from autistic and control subjects to SDS-PAGE followed by Western blotting and incubation with antibodies to four GABA-A receptor subunits.

Levels of GABRB3, which was identified using an antibody from the Novus Biologicals antibody catalog, were decreased in the cerebellum and parietal cortex of autistic subjects. The cerebellum also showed decreased levels of GABRA1. The parietal cortex showed decreased levels of GABRA1, GABRA2 and GABRA3. Only GABRA1 was decreased in the frontal cortex of autistic subjects.

Western Blot: GABA A receptor alpha 1 subunit Antibody Western Blot: GABA A receptor alpha 1 subunit Antibody

Autism has been associated with structural abnormalities in these same regions of the brain. It is thought that abnormalities in the cerebellum may cause motor system dysfunction found in autism. Defects of the parietal cortex could account for language problems, disturbed visuo-spatial integration and slowed attention shift. Frontal cortical abnormalities may lead to the linguistic, cognitive and emotional deficits typical of autism.

The authors suggest that the decrease in GABA-A receptor subunits may contribute to the development of these abnormalities. They cite the finding that GABRB3 knockout mice also show abnormalities. Moreover, on the basis of other data in the literature, they consider the gene for GABRB3 to show the greatest potential for identifying the genetic basis of autism.

This preliminary demonstration of changes in GABA-A receptor subunits opens the door for increased understanding of autism. Anti-GABA receptor antibodies will undoubtedly contribute to future studies.

Novus Biologicals offers many GABA-A reagents for your research needs including:

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