Age of Autism Science Source: Research proposes common link between autism, diabetes
Study implicates hyperinsulinemia in increased incidence of autism
HOUSTON -- (Oct. 19, 2011) -- A review of the genetic and biochemical abnormalities associated with autism reveals a possible link between the widely diagnosed neurological disorder and Type 2 diabetes, another medical disorder on the rise in recent decades.
"It appears that both Type 2 diabetes and autism have a common underlying mechanism -- impaired glucose tolerance and hyperinsulinemia," said Rice University biochemist Michael Stern, author of the opinion paper, which appears online in this month's issue of Frontiers in Cellular Endocrinology.
Hyperinsulinemia, often a precursor to insulin resistance, is a condition characterized by excess levels of insulin in the bloodstream. Insulin resistance is often associated with both obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
"It will be very easy for clinicians to test my hypothesis," said Stern, professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice. "They could do this by putting autistic children on low-carbohydrate diets that minimize insulin secretion and see if their symptoms improve."
Stern said the new finding also suggests that glucose tolerance in pregnant women may need to be addressed more seriously than it is now.
Stern said he first realized there could be a common link between Type 2 diabetes and autism a few years ago, but he assumed someone else had already thought of the idea.
Stern's lab, which is located at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative, specializes in investigating the genetic interactions associated with genetic diseases like neurofibromatosis, a disorder in which patients are several times more likely to be afflicted with autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) like Asperger's syndrome.
Autism and ASD are neurological disorders that have a strong but poorly understood genetic basis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about nine out of 1,000 U.S. children are diagnosed with ASD.
Stern said at least four genes associated with increased frequency in autism are known to produce proteins that play key roles in a biochemical pathway known as PI3K/Tor. Stern said he had been studying a form of abnormal function in the synapses of fruit flies that was remarkably similar to abnormalities observed in rats and mice with defects in a different pathway known as mGluR-mediated long-term depression.
"I had also spent a lot of time thinking about insulin signaling because another project in my lab is an endocrinology project in which we're studying how key proteins involved in insulin signaling affect the timing of metamorphosis in fruit flies," Stern said.
From his studies in both areas, Stern knew two things: PI3K/Tor was the major pathway for insulin signals within cells, and insulin could affect synapses in a remarkably similar way to the mGluR defects associated with autism.
"When I read that the incidence of autism was increasing, and combined that with the fact that the incidence of Type 2 diabetes is also increasing, it seemed reasonable that each increase could have the same ultimate cause -- the increase in hyperinsulinemia in the general population," Stern said. "I didn't do anything with this notion for a few years because it seemed so obvious that I figured everyone already knew this hypothesis, or had tested it and found it was not true."
Stern said he changed his mind a few months ago when a health care consulting firm asked him to provide input about autism.
"In preparing for this interview, I discovered that gestational diabetes was the most important identified maternal risk factor for autism, but that 'no known mechanism could account for this,'" Stern recalled. "When I read this, I was speechless. That's when I realized that this was not obvious to others in the field, so I decided to write this up with the hope that clinicians might become aware of this and treat their patients accordingly."
In writing the article, Stern said he learned that the role of insulin in cognitive function is becoming more widely accepted.
"I was checking to see if insulin was known to affect synaptic function, and I learned that the nasal application of insulin is already being tested to see if it is beneficial for both Alzheimer's and schizophrenia."
Stern said he also found preliminary studies that indicated that low-carb diets were therapeutic for some individuals with autism and ASD.
"Based on what's already in the literature, insulin needs to be taken seriously as a causative element in autism," Stern said. "I hope that clinicians will take the next step and put this to a rigorous test and determine how to best use this information to benefit patients."
VIDEO is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGizH7NaRxY
A high-resolution image is available for download at: http://www.media.rice.edu/images/media/NEWSRELS/Stern.jpg
CAPTION: Michael Stern
CREDIT: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
The opinion article is available at: bit.ly/r4SALm
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its "unconventional wisdom." With 3,485 undergraduates and 2,275 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://futureowls.rice.edu/images/futureowls/Rice_Brag_Sheet.pdf.
I have always suspected this link. I have type 2 diabetes. In the past I have asked the pediatrician to test my children for diabetes. She said its not common to check until they are in their teens (???) I had gestational diabetes during my pregnancies with my two oldest boys (one with ASD) and I found out I had type 2 diabetes with my youngest (ASD). My two boys with ASD are overweight.
Posted by: Sherry | October 24, 2011 at 09:38 AM
I have a friend, her daughter was just diagnosed in Oct of last year with Type 2 diabetes. This child is also on the severe side of autism. The child was given Respiradol for over 2 yrs and when mom mentioned to the Peds doc that her daughter had gained over 70 lbs in under a year(in front of the doctors eyes I might add) the doc blew it off like it wasn't a big deal. This doc NEVER did any pre-blood work before putting the child on Respiradol and two years later, had never ordered ANY blood work even after mom had repeatedly asked for blood work to be done. When the mom raised concerns about the weight gain and was worried about diabetes, the doctor looked at the child and visually claimed "She doesn't have diabetes". Now this child has been an insulin dependent Type 2 diabetic for almost a year now.
I'm not sure where all of this is going but I do know that vaccines have been linked to diabetes and also chemical "medications" used to "treat" autism have also been linked to diabetes. I believe it is moving the goal posts once again from what the REAL issues are.
Posted by: rileysmom | October 23, 2011 at 01:22 PM
The association of vaccination with diabetes has been known for quite some time. The association of vaccination with pancreatitis has also been known for quite some time. I strongly suspect that they share a common underlying pathophysiology - vaccine-induced microvascular ischemia. Genetics has nothing whatsoever to do with it. The true incidence of vaccine-induced pancreatitis is likely to be grossly under-reported because serum amylase and lipase levels are rarely obtained.
I'd be very interested to know whether the growth rate in the "provocation diabetes" epidemic is exponential. There is strong data to show that the growth rate of the ASD epidemic is increasing. See Figure 1 from Mark Blaxill's 2004 article. The growth curve for reported prevalence of autism and ASD appears to be described by an exponential. I'd like to see what the data look like to the present.
Blaxill, M. (2004). What’s going on? The question of time trends in autism. Public Health Report, Nov–Dec; 119(6), 536–551. doi: 10.1016/j.phr.2004.09.003.
Oller, J. W., Jr., & Oller, S. D. (2010). Autism: The diagnosis, treatment, and etiology of the undeniable epidemic. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Posted by: patrons99 | October 22, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Thanks Holly for including bipolar in all this mess.
In the doctor’s waiting room this week – I always go through their literature --- I found this little gem. No it has nothing to do with glucose or diabetes --- or does it???
The Vol.9 - Issue 1 - September 201 "Health Wellness Magazine" Featured as its main article on the front cover in big letters, “Bipolar Disorder"
A reminder about my family - My daughter developed Kawasakis - 7 weeks after a DPT in 1983 after her recovery from Kawasakis, my daughter's personality changed, she was irritable, mad, but at other times sweet. Not until her late 20's after receiving three Hep B's and a flu shot did her SED rates soar up again/no longer could she sleep/stiffness/leg pains/mood swings - and she developed full blown psychosis which lead to her(now a nurse) basically diagnosing herself with bipolar.
In this article it states:
That in the past only adults was diagnosed with bipolar but---
“A prominent Harvard University child psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Biederman, changed all that in the mid-90s. He postulated that chronic irritability in children, often those already diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, was a childhood version of bipolar mania."
The article then sends me down memory lane of the autism debate. Yeap , so here we go again;
The article then goes on to explain:
"What is bipolar disorder" sound familiar? What is autism?
"What are the signs and symptoms of bipolar"; We all have heard this one before -"Know the signs of autism."
"What role do Genetics play in Bipolar Affective Disorder" Here we go again another disorder to keep the genetics guys drawing a paycheck. Bipolar will be interchangeable with autism in the famous quote "Genetics loads the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger”
Oh, and one more thing in bipolar has in common with autism is:
It has been increasing a lot in recent years. "In the past decade there has been a 4000 percent, or 40-fold increase in the number of American children diagnosed with bipolar disorder between the years of 1994 to 2003."
But wait for it – it is coming – see if this sounds familiar?
This article goes on to say the increase is probably only because: "Doctors talked themselves into believing that many kids were bipolar. It essentially was a diagnostic fad!" Autism is a fad too! Cool!
The article still is not finished with the reasons that bipolar has increased though because it goes on to say :
"Another reason for higher rates of bipolar diagnoses in children is hospitals. Many children are first diagnosed with bipolar upon admittance because insurance will not cover even a short stay unless the patient has a major diagnosis."
Well mean ol'e insurance companies, caused this problem because they sort of wanted to know why they are paying for a child in the hospital, throwing violent temper rants, or not sleeping well , or being very irritable.
Well, heck, can't you just hear the southern, or western or what ever old common sense drawl of speech from some really smart, smirking professor or doctor saying------ In the good old days these kids would be labeled kids will be kids,boys will be boys, just give them a spanking and everything will be okay!
Posted by: Benedetta | October 22, 2011 at 09:30 PM
The links between diabetes and autism have been known for some time. Mercury in vaccines is known to kill insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells and it also kills neurons. So clearly the same iatrogenic and environmental factors are playing a role in both cases. In addition to mercury, vaccinations alone can induce encephalitis and pancreatitis in infants, leading to injury of the brain and pancreas.
Posted by: veritas | October 22, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Oh, and I completely agree. Genetics are the subplot. Environment is the lead-in autism, asthma, diabetes, allergies, ADHD, Alzheimer's, celiac, bipolar....
I wonder how many other doctors are thinking that he links with autism and their own research is "obvious" and assume that everyone else sees the connection too. The only obvious trend I see is polarization and vilification of the caring doctors who treat our kids.
Posted by: Holly Riley | October 22, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Another "aha" moment. This is my experience. I had the tree hour glucose test for both of my pregnancies because the one hour tests were "sweet" but my numbers weren't high enough to dx gestational diabetes. I had two giant babies (9 pounds 10 oz and 10 pounds even --both born 5 days before their due date, and, no, I didn't have C-sections). My daughter reacted to the Dtap and has asthma-her blood sugar was slightly elevated recently. My research then linked it to the steroid inhaler, but this is also fits very nicely. My son, who reacted to many vaccines and has immune and mito dysfunction but still recovered from autism, responded very well to the SCD, and we continue to keep a low starch diet.
Or maybe it's a "duh!" moment.
Nice to see he science. As always, thanks AoA!
Posted by: Holly Riley | October 22, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Think of all the abuse our community has taken when parents have put their kids on The Specific Carbohydrate Diet and talked about how well the kids have done on it. All these unnecessary diets, we are told. How many more times do we have to be right before our experiences with our own children are given a fair hearing?
And some parents of Autistic kids with GI issues have reported accompanying neurological improvements (less impulsivity, etc) with GFCF diet. So what does the University of Rochester do - it does an Autism/GFCF study that EXCLUDES kids with GI issues then says the study showed no benefit of the diet on Autistic. It was never the parents of kids without GI issues that reported benefits to begin with. If researchers would talk to us first to identify sub-groups it could help them build better a hypothesis, but they know better than we do, right?
I'm glad there are researchers like Dr. Rice out there who look deeper.
Posted by: AnaB | October 22, 2011 at 08:29 AM
If I may be so bold to quote two comments on another article from "Age of Autism" which shows that although
Stern may have been surprised that no one has asked, but no one that has had a kid damaged by vaccines is suprised.
And as far as Genes goes - well I am glad Stern is asking an important question, but if a disease or condition is not stable in the population it is not genetic.
"Did you know that the whooping cough germ, Bacillus pertussis, when injected into animals, has long been known to lead to the secretion of insulin? In 1979, at the Fourth International Symposium on Pertussis, held in Bethesda, Maryland, it was shown that this same result occurs in those who have received pertussis vaccine. In their publication, "Adverse Reactions after Pertussis Vaccination," Drs. W. Hennessen and U. Quast suggest, "It seemed of interest to examine these reactions in comparison with the hypoglycemia syndrome.. . .There was a close relation between the two.’ If your child has juvenile diabetes (a disease characterized by wide swings in blood sugar levels), ask your doctor if he has ever heard of this effect of whooping cough vaccine. Maybe it’s time to investigate whether the pertussis vaccine has anything to do with the rapidly rising number of people with juvenile diabetes, adult diabetes, and hypoglycemic all disorders of insulin metabolism."---Dr Robert Mendelsohn MD (the Peoples Doctor Vol 6 No10)
"At least since the 1970s, pertussis vaccine has been known in animal experiments to stimulate over-production of insulin by the pancreas followed by exhaustion and destruction of the "islets" with consequent under-production of insulin; in the first case the outcome is hypoglycemia, and in the latter it is diabetes. Physicians as early as 1949 called attention to low blood glucose in children who had severe reactions to the pertussis vaccine. In 1970, Margaret Pittman wrote: "the infant whose blood sugar level is influenced by food intake may be especially vulnerable to vaccine-induced hypglycemia...the vaccine induces hypoglycemia in mice and rabbits." Gordon Stewart wrote in 1977: "more than any other vaccine in common use, pertussis vaccine is known pharmacologically to provoke...hypoglycemia due to increase production of insulin." Two Dutch researchers, Hannik and Cohen, observed in 1978: "infants who show serious reactions following pertussis vaccination suffer from a failure to maintain glucose homeostasis." And two German researchers, Hennessen and Quast, found in 1979 that 59 out of 149 children who manifested adverse reactions to the pertussis vaccine developed symptoms of hypoglycemia."---Harris Coulter
Posted by: Benedetta | October 21, 2011 at 06:16 PM
I remain VERY skeptical that ASD is genetic in origin. I do believe, however, that there is a link between the epidemic of both ASD and diabetes. IMO, they are both "provocation diseases" directly related to vaccine madness (the vaccine schedules).
Posted by: patrons99 | October 21, 2011 at 11:57 AM