Autistic Fish?

Minnows living in water with psychoactive pharmaceuticals have autism-like gene expression profiles, pointing to an environmental trigger for the disorder.

By | June 7, 2012

Enziarro" > Wikimedia Commons, Enziarro


Active pharmaceuticals often find their way to the world’s drinking water, though the consequences of this are largely unknown. Now, new research published yesterday (June 6) in PLoS ONE, identifies at least one possible outcome—altered gene expression. Fathead minnows exposed to psychoactive medications in the water showed gene expression profiles that are associated with autism spectrum disorder in humans. The results suggest a potential environmental trigger for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in genetically susceptible populations, and may explain the association between antidepressant use by pregnant women and ASD in their kids.Michael Thomas of Idaho State University and colleagues tested three psychoactive pharmaceuticals—fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI); venlafaxine, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor; and carbamazepine, used to control seizures. They used concentrations estimated to be the highest found in the environment, which are still quite low, and saw that fish exhibited altered expression patterns in their brains for genes associated with idiopathic ASD, meaning underlying genetic factors interact with unknown environmental triggers to cause disease.

“Our findings suggest a new potential trigger for idiopathic autism in genetically susceptible individuals involving an overlooked source of environmental contamination,” the authors wrote.

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Avatar of: Sherrie


Posts: 1457

June 7, 2012

Very interesting... In addition to environmental chemicals as potential sources of toxicity, I would also speculate about the use of powerful prescription medication by pregnant and breastfeeding women. Those would possibly have an even greater impact on the fetus/newborn than trace amounts of environmental toxins in the initial stages of development.

Avatar of: glenn398


Posts: 15

June 7, 2012

I have said for a long time we are poisoning ourselves with the vast use of insect spraying as well. In the 40s and 50s children didn't get the diseases of today. Cancer was an old peoples disease and with few exceptions we usually expected someone close to 80 to get it. You see people today spraying the inside of their homes weekly and then letting their kids craw on the floor. If it is poison for insects what makes people think it can't have an affect on their children. If spraying insects really worked by now they should have been totally eliminated. What it really does is kill the good insects that used to keep the bad one's under control. Past time to wake up people.

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