By Teresa Conrick
It is not new news that beta amyloid, a protein heavily studied in Alzheimer's disease has also been showing up in Autism:
2006 - High levels of Alzheimer beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP) in children with severely autistic behavior and aggression.
2011 - "The Weigel lab also reported observing secretions of protein called beta-amyloid in brain tissue of children with autism. Interestingly, the level of beta-amyloid related to the severity of autism and aggression".
2011 - Increased Secreted Amyloid Precursor Protein-α (sAPPα) in Severe Autism: Proposal of a Specific, Anabolic Pathway and Putative Biomarker
2011 - Accumulation of Amyloid-Beta Peptide Species In Four Brain Structures In Children with Autism - International Society For Autism Research
What is becoming more evident is that the roots of amyloid beta may be attached to the immune system - literally.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 4, 2012)- Autism May Be Linked to Abnormal Immune System Characteristics and Novel Protein Fragment
"Immune system abnormalities that mimic those seen with autism spectrum disorders have been linked to the amyloid precursor protein (APP)......The amyloid precursor protein is typically the focus of research related to Alzheimer's disease. However, recent scientific reports have identified elevated levels of the particular protein fragment, called, sAPP-α, in the blood of autistic children."
What made this something even on my radar was that I recently wrote about vaccine injuries from the H1N1 vaccine leading to Narcolepsy. I included a study that had this fact - "Beta -amyloid is not only of relevance in dementia processes but is also reported to modulate the response to environmental stressors in the brain, and is supposed to have antimicrobrial properties against different classes of microorganism, including some strains of streptococci." Since we like to connect the accurate dots here at Age of Autism, it seemed relevant that those two factors, beta amyloid and antimicrobrial poperties, may be important.
Consider these important findings in Alzheimer's research as they may then have a significant correlation for children who regress into Autism:
23 March 2010 - Microbes implicated in Alzheimer's
"The peptide beta amyloid has long been thought to be involved in Alzheimer's disease, though there is a great deal of controversy about whether it's a primary cause of the disease, or merely a symptom. Now, Rudolph Tanzi and his group at Massachusetts General Hospital have shown it might not be simply 'junk' - it could be being made to protect the brain from pathogens as part of the innate immune system.....So student Stephanie Soscia tested it against a range of common pathogens, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Candida albicans, and found eight of the pathogens were killed by the amyloid....'There are examples of pathogens that accumulate in the brain, including Chlamydia pneumoniae and the Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1). We're also looking very closely at the yeast Candida albicans, as it was most potent against this pathogen in our screens,' he says. 'However, the innate immune system can also be triggered by strokes and traumatic brain injury, which also increase beta amyloid levels. We call our hypothesis the toxic gain function hypothesis, as beta amyloid has a normal function, but if there is too much of that function, it becomes toxic.'
Bad News For Eli Lilly Drug Trial/ More Thoughts About Beta Amyloid and Infection
"One group has found that beta-amyloid kills microbes; they tested a number of bacteria, all of which were killed by beta-amyloid, and this group is now looking at viruses, such as herpes simplex, and other microbes.......Drs. Ruth Itzhaki and Mark Wozniak in the UK have done extensive work looking at the herpes simplex virus as a cause of AD (they have numerous papers on this from 2005 through 2009.) This virus causes fever blisters, can cause shingles (along with the chickenpox virus, a close relative), and also genital herpes. Herpes simplex lives within nerves and the nerves to the face around the mouth orignate deep in the brain. Most people carry this and other viruses by the time they reach old age, but they have found that people who are ApoE4+ are particularly likely to suffer recurrent episodes of fever blisters. these researchers have found this virus within about 90% of the beta-amyloid plaques in the autopsied brains they have looked at, which strongly suggests that beta-amyloid is there to defend the brain against it. They have also found in animals that the herpes virus increases production of beta-amyloid and also induces AD-like tau phosphorylation (production of tangles). They want to study whether suppression of herpes virus with anti-viral medication would be beneficial to people with AD, but have had trouble getting funding for this."
Trouble funding research that implicates viruses and bacteria due to immune system dysregulation is also not new to Autism, either. Many who bring it up are treated like blasphemous charlatans yet the research keeps coming showing that microbes are involved in this process:
Aβ Rehabilitated as an Antimicrobial Protein?
"This prompted the scientists to test whether Aβ kills microbes....Aβ was active in this way on E. coli, staphylococci, Listeria monocytogenes, the Borrelia spirochete, Helicobacter pylorus, Chlamydia pneumoniae, the fungus Candida albicans and other pathogens....Aβ is more bacteriotoxic than neurotoxic,” Moir said, adding that that, too, is consistent with a primary role in innate immunity.....it is known that certain metals mediate Aβ oligomerization,... “You could speculate that amyloid deposition is not just a question of Aβ concentration rising to a threshold level, but that physiologically, it can be an active process to entrap an infection.” This would raise the question of whether inside every plaque lie the remains of a microbe. "
Alzheimer's disease - a neurospirochetosis. Analysis of the evidence following Koch's and Hill's criteria
"It is established that chronic spirochetal infection can cause slowly progressive dementia, brain atrophy and amyloid deposition in late neurosyphilis. Recently it has been suggested that various types of spirochetes, in an analogous way to Treponema pallidum, [the bacterium that causes syphilis] could cause dementia and may be involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we review all data available in the literature on the detection of spirochetes in AD and critically analyze the association and causal relationship between spirochetes and AD following established criteria of Koch and Hill. The results show a statistically significant association between spirochetes and AD....spirochetes were observed in the brain in more than 90% of AD cases."
Consider too that mercury has also been implicated in producing beta amyloid:
Mercury induces cell cytotoxicity and oxidative stress and increases beta-amyloid secretion and tau phosphorylation in SHSY5Y neuroblastoma cells. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10617124
"Concentrations of heavy metals, including mercury, have been shown to be altered in the brain and body fluids of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients....The release of beta-amyloid peptide (Abeta) 1-40 and 1-42 into cell culture supernatants after exposure to HgCl2 was shown .... These results indicate that mercury may play a role in pathophysiological mechanisms of AD."
Evidence of parallels between mercury intoxication and the brain pathology in autism.
"increased amyloid precursor protein;.....The evidence suggests that mercury may be either causal or contributory in the brain pathology in ASD, possibly working synergistically with other toxic compounds or pathogens to produce the brain pathology observed in those diagnosed with an ASD."
In their book, The Age of Autism, Mercury, Medicine and a Man-Made Epidemic, Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted went into great detail describing GPI, General Paresis (Paralysis) of the Insane. They demonstrated that there was much evidence that those who had Syphilis and were treated with mercury were the ones to go on and regress into GPI. It appeared to be an interaction with the microbe and mercury that produced the symptoms of GPI:
"Many good authorities now think that general paresis is more directly due to the use of overdoses of mercury rather than to syphilis itself" http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=429130
That was written over a hundred years ago. Here's another, more current one;
Beta amyloid deposition in the atrophic form of general paresis
"The results indicate that amyloid deposits in general paresis, as in AD, consist of beta amyloid. This together with historical data showing that a chronic bacterial disease may have a similar pathology to AD should be included in our current concept of the pathogenesis of AD as discussed by Alzheimer and his colleagues 100 years ago."
It appears that Beta amyloid production could be a big clue in the recipe for regression and degeneration. There is research looking at STOPPING this process but not yet in Autism. WHY? Will 2013 be the year that Autism research becomes more honest and the "autism gene" will be put to rest?
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.