Expression of GABA(B) receptors is altered in brains of subjects with autism

Cerebellum. 2009 Mar;8(1):64-9. doi: 10.1007/s12311-008-0075-3.

Abstract

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is often comorbid with seizures. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in brain. GABA(B) receptors play an important role in maintaining excitatory-inhibitory balance in brain and alterations may lead to seizures. We compared levels of GABA(B) receptor subunits GABA(B) receptor 1 (GABBR1) and GABA(B) receptor 2 (GABBR2) in cerebellum, Brodmann's area 9 (BA9), and BA40 of subjects with autism and matched controls. Levels of GABBR1 were significantly decreased in BA9, BA40, and cerebellum, while GABBR2 was significantly reduced in the cerebellum. The presence of seizure disorder did not have a significant impact on the observed reductions in GABA(B) receptor subunit expression. Decreases in GABA(B) receptor subunits may help explain the presence of seizures that are often comorbid with autism, as well as cognitive difficulties prevalent in autism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics*
  • Autistic Disorder / pathology
  • Cerebellum / metabolism*
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / metabolism
  • Parietal Lobe / pathology
  • Receptors, GABA-B / genetics*
  • Receptors, GABA-B / metabolism
  • Reference Values
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • GABA type B receptor, subunit 1
  • GABBR2 protein, human
  • Receptors, GABA-B