Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Is a Subtype of Autism an Allergy of the Brain?


I am actually in the middle of writing up my ideas about autism and the various human growth factors, but I just came across a paper worthy of its own post.  It is by one of those researchers already on my Dean's List, Dr Theoharis Theoharides from Tuft's University.

Is a Subtype of Autism an Allergy of the Brain?

You may recall that Theoharides works in the very small world of the mast cell.  These cells play a key role in allergies.  They contain histamine, serotonin and various other inflammatory agents.

The allergy causes the mast cells to "degranulate" and all the contents is released into the blood supply.  This then starts a chain reaction of events all over the body.

I was just reading about Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which appears to behave strangely in autism.  It turns out that mast cells synthesise, store and release NGF.

NGF is very important for the brain, but it can also be highly neuro-inflammatory.  In autism NGF levels are elevated, just like Serotonin levels usually are.

What is the connection between NGF, Serotonin and Autism?  The degranulation of the mast cell.

Well, Theoharides knows everything about mast cell stabilizers.  These are agents that stop the mast cells emptying their contents into the blood stream.

But perhaps he has actually missed a connection.  In my forthcoming post on Human Growth Factors, we will find out about palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), a natural substance found in body that counters the inflammatory effect of NGF.  According to the Nobel Laureate who discovered TNF, PEA itself has mast cell stabilzing properties.

And one other strange thing, in people with autism and ADHD, they have low levels of PEA.

Put all the pieces together and then reconsider:-

        Is a subtype of autism an allergy of the brain?

I think the answer is of course yes; but more than that, I think it may well affect all subtypes of autism, just not all the time.

In some people they may have this "allergy" and nothing else.  In other people there are other issues like ion channel dysfunctions, but when their autism suddenly flares up, think over-activated immune system in Peter-speak or allergy of the brain in Theoharis-speak.

I think we are in effect speaking the same language.




  1. Peter, you know that I am serious about asd.
    but I met a girl who lives nearby. Her mom told me this girl had serious asd symptoms and was officially diagnosed with asd. Later this girl undergoes strict GFCF, and had training once a week (far from enough). And this girl now no longer has asd symptoms, only delayed with academic performance. However, if GFCF is not strictly controlled, the symptoms reappear, his mom told me.
    I feel this girl may only have brain allergy.
    Unfortunately, most asd kids may have true brain disorders.

  2. PEA is phenylethylamine.


Post a comment