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Autism and microglial cells
July/August 2020
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JUPITER, Fla.—A study led by researchers at Scripps Research looked at gene mutations that account for a small percentage of autism disorders and that are known to result in overproduction of proteins in brain cells, and found that the overproduction impacts brain immune cells known as microglial cells. Microglial cells are known to “prune” synapses that are no longer needed as the brain develops through childhood, but protein overproduction impairs their work, which results in autism-like social behavior deficits in males. While the cells are still capable of pruning synapses, they lack the motility to do so. The research team intends to pursue this work further to determine why protein increases impact microglial cells in men more than women.

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