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Showing posts with label Channelopathy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Channelopathy. Show all posts

Friday, 5 February 2016

Propranolol, Autism and Sodium Ion Channels Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.3 and Nav1.5









When writing this blog I frequently wonder what happened to all the very clever people; why are these full-time paid researchers often missing the obvious?







Boy with severe headache and ASD, awaiting Propranolol


The answer is, with a few notable exceptions (Catterall, Ben-Ari etc), the clever ones do not study autism, they study things that are much better defined, rare things like Angelman Syndrome and, recently, Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome.  These researchers seem much more rigorous.  For example:-


David Sweatt (Pitt Hopkins)

Pitt–Hopkins Syndrome: intellectual disability due to loss of TCF4-regulated gene transcription



Edwin Weeber (Angelman syndrome)



So autism is left to what might be termed the Baron Cohen brigade.



Propranolol

Propranolol is a medication of the beta blocker type.  It is used to treat high blood pressure, a number of types of irregular heart rate, thyrotoxicosis, performance anxiety, and essential tremors. It is used to prevent migraine headaches, and to prevent further heart problems in those with angina or previous heart attacks.

It is a nonselective beta blocker which works by blocking β-adrenergic receptors.

While once a first-line treatment for hypertension, they do not perform as well as other drugs, particularly in the elderly, and evidence is increasing that the most frequently used beta blockers at usual doses carry an unacceptable risk of provoking type 2 diabetes.

Beta blockers block the action of endogenous catecholamines epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine(noradrenaline) on adrenergic beta receptors, of the sympathetic nervous system, which mediates the fight-or-flight response. Some block all activation of β-adrenergic receptors and others are selective.

It is occasionally used to treat performance anxiety.   Given the effect (above) on the fight or flight response this is logical.

The sympathetic nervous system's primary process is to stimulate the body's fight-or-flight response. It is, however, constantly active at a basic level to maintain homeostasis.

Evidence to support the use in other anxiety disorders is poor.

But what the ever useful Wikipedia almost glosses over is the part I find more interesting:-



  
Now we have to hope that cardiologists prescribing Propranolol are fully aware of the role of Nav1.5 in the heart and its role in heart rate.  This has nothing to do with it being a beta blocker.

Hopefully neurologists prescribing it for certain severe headaches understand the role of Nav1.1 in the brain.

It would not surprise me if they did not.



Propranolol earlier in this Blog

Earlier in this blog there are comments regarding the use of low doses of Propranolol to treat anxiety in autism.

Some people report it works wonders, while for others it did nothing.


  


Propranolol in Autism Research


A study was published recently and a reader drew my attention to it, but there have also been a few others.

Blood pressure medicine may improve conversational skills of individuals with autism


An hour after administration, the researchers had a structured conversation with the participants, scoring their performance on six social skills necessary to maintain a conversation: staying on topic, sharing information, reciprocity or shared conversation, transitions or interruptions, nonverbal communication and maintaining eye contact. The researchers found the total communication scores were significantly greater when the individual took propranolol compared to the placebo.
"Though more research is needed to study its effects after more than one dose, these preliminary results show a potential benefit of propranolol to improve the conversational and nonverbal skills of individuals with autism," said Beversdorf

  

Effect of propranolol on verbal problem solving in autism spectrum disorder


Effect of Propranolol on Functional Connectivity in Autism Spectrum Disorder—A Pilot Study




Back to Channelopathies

There are 24,000 human genes, but a much more manageable number of ion channels.  For each ion channel or transporter, there is a gene that expresses it.

When ion channels malfunction, it is called a channelopathy.  Channelopathies are quite well researched and very common in autism.  Early on in this blog I simplified idiopathic classic autism with the following chart.

I suspect that people with channelopathies (Nav1.1, Nav1,2, Nav1.3) caused by dysfunctions in the genes SCN1A, SCN2A, SCN3A are the ones that will most benefit from Propranolol.

I suspect those people will already suffer terrible headaches and/or seizures.

These three channelopathies have been known to be associated with autism for ten years.









Nav1.1 / SCN1A


Migraine, other headaches
Epilepsy


Regular readers will know that Professor Catterall is the expert on sodium channels and here he is again below




Nav1.2 / SCN2A

http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/SCN2A

Epileptic encephalopathy, early infantile, 11 (EIEE11): An autosomal dominant seizure disorder characterized by neonatal or infantile onset of refractory seizures with resultant delayed neurologic development and persistent neurologic abnormalities. Patients may progress to West syndrome, which is characterized by tonic spasms with clustering, arrest of psychomotor development, and hypsarrhythmia on EEG


Nav1.3 / SCN3A


neuronal hyperexcitability and epilepsy 

         Novel SCN3A variants associated with focal epilepsy in             children.





Nav1.5 / SCN5A

http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/SCN5A

Mainly heart conditions, since this ion channel is expressed mainly in the heart.




Autism and Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.3

For many years it has been known that the hundreds of variations in the genes SCN1A, SCN2A and SCN3A are associated with autism.  So we can consider them pretty well established autism genes.

Clearly any drug affecting expression of those genes, or affecting the ion channels they express, should be a target autism drug.






Conclusion

Some people with autism and severe headaches, or epilepsy, have an underlying sodium channelopathy.  Sodium channel blockers are not as well understood/ developed as calcium channel blockers.

In some cases, but maybe not all, this should be detectable by genetic testing of the genes SCN1A, SCN2A and SCN3A.

If you live in a country that does not bother with genetic testing, you might want to fall back on trial and error and discuss Propranolol with your doctor.

Did all the people with Asperger’s, in the recent study, who became more conversational after a single dose of Propranolol, have problems with Nav1.1, Nav1.2 or Nav1.3 ?  I doubt it.  The other commonly known effects of Propranolol should also play a role.

But for a sub-set of people with Strictly Defined Autism, Propranolol might be hugely beneficial.  Perhaps Professor Catterall should investigate?









Tuesday, 19 May 2015

ASD variants - (mis and missed) diagnoses. Calcium ion channel dysfunctions Cav1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4


This post serves to introduce some ideas relevant to a post that is will shortly arrive on calcium ion channel dysfunctions (Cav1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4).

As we have seen, nearly all behavioral and psychiatric disorders are just diagnosed based on observation.  Only in very rare cases is the underlying biological problem diagnosed.  So it is fair to say that these are not accurate medical diagnoses.

Under the wide umbrella term of ASD are likely hundreds of thousands of  discrete variants, since ASD generally results from the combination of multiple hits/dysfunctions.  A single one of these dysfunctions is usually not enough to trigger autism, but some may indeed trigger something else noticeable.  A small number of individual hits, like Fragile-X and Retts can trigger autism, but these are the exception.


Mis and Missed diagnoses

One reader of this blog received a diagnosis for his child as “late onset regressive autism or possible childhood disintegrative disorder”.  Neither of these options is very good, since you are talking about an entirely typical child who, after the age of four, begins to regress and lose his acquired skills.

After a long struggle, he found the biological diagnosis, which is mitochondrial disease.  After a few months of the Richard Kelley (from Johns Hopkins), therapy the regression was halted and now new skills are again being acquired.

This is another example of how unacceptable simple observational diagnoses are.  What would have happened if the reader had not stumbled upon this blog and then later sought out help from the leading experts (just look on my Dean’s list)?



Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is very commonly diagnosed in the US, much more so than in other countries.  More severe cases of ADHD look much like ASD, which is why I call them autism-lite.

Another group of ADHD may indeed be purely behavioral – too much time with smart phones, iPads and video games.  This is supported by the fact that the data on incidence of ADHD shows that a large group of children with ADHD, “grow out of it”, or were misdiagnosed in the first place.

However, it does look like there is another group of ADHD which is biological, but may be different to autism.  On this subject I will bring you the comments of Dr. Manuel Casanova, a neurologist and along with that, thoughtful and knowledgeable about autism. 

Then we have the recurring clinical trials on high EPA/DHA fish oil, which really do show an effect in most trials in ADHD, but fail in most trials in autism.  This will be developed further in the later post on calcium channels.  The suggested view is that either the vitamin A, or the omega 3 oil, is somehow helping and even perhaps some people have a problem absorbing some types of vitamin A.  I was always unconvinced by this. 

However, it has now been shown that the EPA in fish oil has an effect on certain L-type calcium channels.  If you had a mild dysfunction (channelopathy) of one of the L-type calcium channels, then a big enough dose of EPA might have an effect on them.  This becomes more interesting when you learn that some doctors in the US think that dyslexia is another autism-lite.

One suggested cause of dyslexia is visual deficit that makes reading difficult, but it also accompanied by a difficulty seeing in the dark.  This night blindness is known to be caused by vitamin A deficiency (or an inability to absorb it properly) and also by an ion channel dysfunction in Cav1.4.

It appears that the high EPA fish oil would increase vitamin A and also affect the function of Cav1.4.  The calcium ion channel Ca1.4 is widely expressed in your eyes.

Another interesting point is that it is thought that a dysfunction in one type of Calcium channel will often affect the function of others.  This is important because when you look at the effect of dysfunctions in these channels you will a listing including:-

·        Autism (Timothy Sydrome)
·        Mood disorder
·        Depression
·        Bipolar

As well as things like

·        Night blindness
·        Heart defects (Timothy Sydrome)

We also should note that many people (without autism) with sight problems claim improvement from taking high EPA fish oil.



Dyslexia

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. It affects about 3 to 7 percent of people. While it is diagnosed more often in males, some believed it affects males and females equally. Up to 20 percent of the population may have some degree of symptoms

Dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) commonly occur together; about 15 percent of people with dyslexia also have ADHD and 35 percent of those with ADHD have dyslexia.

The causes appear to be genetic and epigenetic. For example the gene KIAA0319


People usually think of dyslexia only in children, but that may be because many adults do not read very much.  Or do they "grow out of it".



ADHD

“It affects about 6–7% of children when diagnosed via the DSM-IV criteria and 1–2% when diagnosed via the ICD-10 criteria.  Rates are similar between countries and depend mostly on how it is diagnosed. ADHD is diagnosed approximately three times more in boys than in girls. About 30–50% of people diagnosed in childhood continue to have symptoms into adulthood.”

So it would seem that most people “grow out” of ADHD 



Dr. Manuel Casanova

Dr. Manuel Casanova is a neurologist and along with that is clever, thoughtful and knowledagable about autism.  He looks at measurable anatomical differences and how these may be related to behaviour.  So he is more into the consequences of unchangeable differences in brains.

If you start looking at ion channels and transporters as being key drivers in behaviour then you have the chance to make alterations.  We saw that the same applies to fine tuning the function and indeed structure of key neurotransmitter receptors.

In lay terms, Manuel is showing how brains are indeed “hardwired” differently in many cases of autism, ADHD and even dyslexia.  This might reinforce the old view that really it is “case closed” and nothing more can be done.

However the really clever scientists looking in greater depth show us that notwithstanding some structural variation, much of the problem lies in the aspects of the brain that can be modified and indeed some are constantly in a state of change, for example the shape of dendritric spines and indeed the very substructure of those  GABAA receptors.

He groups dyslexia with ADHD and sees them as fundamentally different to autsim.  Having said that, Manuel tells us that attention disorders may be found in close to 30% of autistic individuals


 He has his own blog.



I suggest you read his full article, but here are some excerpts:-


“Claiming that there is comorbidity across neurodevelopmental disorders based on a single behavioral symptom negates many aspects of the individuality of each condition. In this regard, there are marked differences in the cognitive styles of dyslexic or ADHD individuals and those within the autism spectrum. Dyslexics enjoy a top-down cognitive style, tend to be holistically-oriented and have a gestalt processing bias (e.g., they see the forest but lose track of the individual trees). They are considered to have strong central coherence and excel in synthesizing sensory or cognitive experiences. Individuals within the autism spectrum enjoy a bottom-up cognitive style which makes them detail-oriented. Thus, contrary to dyslexic/ADHD subjects, ASD individuals see the tree but tend to lose sight of the forrest. In addition, they have a local processing bias with weak central coherence and appear to be good analyzers.”






“The above related differences in cognitive style appear to have anatomical correlates. As compared to neurotypicals, dyslexics tend to have smaller brain volumes with a concomitant striking increase in the size of their corpus callosum (the white matter projections that join homologous areas in both cerebral hemispheres). In addition, they have a simplification of their convolutional pattern and their cortical modules for information processing (minicolumns) are wider than expected. We find completely the opposite in patients within the autism spectrum.”



Yet more labels

Since we will be looking at calcium channels and one thing that does affect them is EPA, we should look at another label, dyspraxia, which also is reportedy  affected by fatty acids.
  
Fatty Acids in Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD and the Autistic Spectrum





What is Dyspraxia, also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) ?

Dyspraxia, also known as Developmental coordination disorder (DCD), is is a chronic neurological disorder beginning in childhood that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body.

People with developmental coordination disorder sometimes have difficulty moderating the amount of sensory information that their body is constantly sending them, so as a result dyspraxics are prone to sensory overload and panic attacks.
Many dyspraxics struggle to distinguish left from right, even as adults, and have extremely poor sense of direction generally.

Moderate to extreme difficulty doing physical tasks is experienced by some dyspraxics, and fatigue is common because so much extra energy is expended while trying to execute physical movements correctly. Some (but not all) dyspraxics suffer from hypotonia, low muscle tone, which like DCD can detrimentally affect balance.


Gross motor control

Whole body movement, motor coordination, and body image issues mean that major developmental targets including walking, running, climbing and jumping can be affected. The difficulties vary from person to person and can include the following:


  • Poor timing
  • Poor balance (sometimes even falling over in mid-step). Tripping over one's own feet is also common.
  • Difficulty combining movements into a controlled sequence.
  • Difficulty remembering the next movement in a sequence.
  • Problems with spatial awareness, or proprioception.
  • Some people with developmental coordination disorder have trouble picking up and holding onto simple objects such as pencils, owing to poor muscle tone and/or proprioception.
  • This disorder can cause an individual to be clumsy to the point of knocking things over and bumping into people accidentally.
  • Some people with developmental coordination disorder have difficulty in determining left from right.
  • Cross-laterality, ambidexterity, and a shift in the preferred hand are also common in people with developmental coordination disorder.
  • Problems with chewing foods.

Fine motor control


Fine-motor problems can cause difficulty with a wide variety of other tasks such as using a knife and fork, fastening buttons and shoelaces, cooking, brushing one's teeth, styling one's hair, shaving, applying cosmetics, opening jars and packets, locking and unlocking doors, and doing housework.

Difficulties with fine motor co-ordination lead to problems with handwriting, which may be due to either ideational or ideo-motor difficulties. Problems associated with this area may include:
  • Learning basic movement patterns.
  • Developing a desired writing speed.
  • Establishing the correct pencil grip
  • The acquisition of graphemes – e.g. the letters of the Latin alphabet, as well as numbers.

Associated disorders


People who have developmental coordination disorder may also have one or more of these co-morbid problems:




Dysjustabouteverything (DJE)

If you consider the early years of classic autism, you will see that, in many cases, it includes all of the above disorders, even hypertonia.

But some people are otherwise pretty much typical/normal, are diagnosed with a single disorder like dyscalculia.

The problem is that these are all just observational diagnoses.  Does something biological underlie and connect them?  I think it does.

An autistic person’s struggles with mathematics may be more to do with a problem of understanding the language used to explain it.  This is why, in many cases, they struggle to move beyond counting.  Special methods of teaching maths have been created for such people, but they only take you to an elementary level.

If you have Asperger’s, you have no problem with the language used to explain the concepts or to frame the questions.  Some people with Asperger’s excel at mathematics.

The same is true for dysgraphia, autistic people tend to have very scruffy handwriting, but does this mean that they have dysgraphia? 

Hypotonia is an interesting one.  Many parents report low muscle tone and indeed DAN doctors actually treat it (apparently with Creatine).  I think hypotonia, if present in autism, is likely to be connected to the disruption in the various growth factors that has occurred and this itself may related to GABAB dysfunctions. (I mentioned this connection in an earlier post).  In Monty, aged 11 with ASD, when he was a baby he had Hypertonia.  He was big and all muscle.  As he got older he slid down from the 80-90Th percentile to the 20th percentile.  This fits one very distinct pattern of classic autism.

In the case of Monty, almost all the earlier signs of Dysjustabouteverything have now vanished.  Is this always the case?  Why would that happen in some people and not others?  Did his Polypill interventions play a role?



To investigate

What we need to know is whether there is a common link between all these various “dys-disorders”.

Probably in some (mis/over-diagnosed) people there is no link; but in others there may well be.

In some people there really is a link.  I did not tell you that my old “favourite”, hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HPP), can be caused by a Cav1.1 dysfunction.  HPP-lite is something called hypokalemic sensory overload.  In a little experiment I demonstrated that autistic sensory overload can be just hypokalemic sensory overload.  You just need 250 mg of potassium and a disturbing noise or light to illustrate it.  This is also a symptom of what they call Dyspraxia.

So Cav1.1 associates with HPP (hypokalemic periodic paralysis) and by my inference, sensory overload and some hypotonia;  Cav1.2 associates directly with autism (Timothy Syndrome) and bipolar; Cav1.3 associates with mood disorders, depression, bipolar; Cav1.4 associates with night blindness and perhaps some dyslexia.
A dysfunction in one L-type channel (Cav1.1, Cav1.2, Cav1.3 and Cav1.4) can apparently cause dysfunction in the others.  This surprised me.

So if you have autism, is not surprising if you appear afraid of the dark, feel depressed, experience sensory overload and are not very muscular.

The good news is that much of this appears to be treatable.

For the scientists among you:-

CACNB2    

Voltage-dependent L-type calcium channel subunit beta-2 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the CACNB2 gene
http://www.ebi.ac.uk/interpro/entry/IPR005444


I did forget to remind readers that I see the label schizophrenia as just another name for adult onset autism.

So it is no surprise that adults with autism have a 22 times higher chance of also being diagnosed with schizophrenia compared to non-ASD people.  Note bipolar, OCD etc; and this does not include all those adults with autism who get forgotten.









Conclusion

I am not suggesting “medicalizing” people with dyslexia, or indeed most with ADHD. 
However, it might be useful for somebody affected to know if Cav1.1 to 1.4 were dysfunctional, then at critical moments, like exam time at school, you could indeed give them some extra help.

People with dyslexia, and I presume other “dys-disorders” do often get given extra time at school for exams.  People with ADHD are often entitled to financial benefits in developed countries, and it has been suggested that these countries are the ones with high incidence of diagnosis.  In the US 11% of children and 4.4% of adults have a diagnosis.   ADHD has been medicalized in the U.S. since the 1960s.  In the UK, 3.62% of boys and 0.85% of girls have an ADHD diagnosis.  In France less than 0.5% of children are taking medication for ADHD.

Here is a nice quote:-

Why Are ADHD Rates 20 Times Higher in the U.S. Than in  France?

“it makes perfect sense to me that French children don't need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place.

In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.”



In the case of ADHD, it looks like the French have got it right; but not sadly for autism.

Knowing many different nationalities, I can certainly confirm that French parenting is much tougher than the UK or US variety.  The UK variety is very similar to the US, but without the liberal use of drugs for ADHD or indeed autism.

In tough cases of ADHD, that even French parenting cannot control, perhaps it really is a calcium channelopathy.  Perhaps in these cases a mild calcium channel blocker like fish oil, or indeed Olive Leaf Extract may be potent enough, so you could use these daily without the need for any prescription medication.

In any case, Verapamil, if shown effective, looks a much safer bet than the usual ADHD stimulants like Ritalin.  If your ADHD was caused by calcium channel dysfunction, it would likely later appear elsewhere in your body; all those years on stimulants would not have helped you.

Recall that Verapamil can also be effective in bipolar.








Sunday, 12 April 2015

Olive Leaves as another Calcium Channel Blocker for Autism?

This is a brief post to pass on some information from Natasa, who reads this blog and has a big interest in the role of calcium channels in autism.

The readers of this blog who are doctors express a preference for drugs over supplements, but for many others the reverse is true.  One problem for the others is how to access prescription only drugs.

Natasa has pointed out the Olea europaea Leaf Extract (OLE) that is used by some parents in their “antifungal/antiviral autism protocols”, is actually an L-type calcium channel blocker.

In Southern Europe Olea europaea leafs are known as a folk remedy for hypertension (high blood pressure).



ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE:
In Southern Europe Olea europaea leafs are known as a folk remedy for hypertension. Cardiovascular diseases are still the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in industrialized countries with hypertension being one of the main risk factors.
AIM OF THE STUDY:
We investigated effects of a commercial Olea europaea leaf extract (OLE) on isolated hearts and cultured cardiomyocytes.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Isolated rabbit hearts were perfused according to the Langendorff technique and connected to a 256-channel epicardial mapping system. Voltage clamp experiments were performed in cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes using a perforated-patch technique.
RESULTS:
OLE caused a concentration-depended decrease in systolic left ventricular pressure and heart rate as well as an increase in relative coronary flow and a slight, but not significant prolongation of PQ-time. There were no significant changes between the groups in the activation-recovery interval and its dispersion, total activation time, peak-to-peak amplitude, percentage of identical breakthrough-points and similar vectors of local activation. Voltage clamp experiments in cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes showed a significant decrease in maximum I(Ca,L) by OLE which was reversible upon wash-out.
CONCLUSIONS:
OLE suppresses the L-type calcium channel directly and reversibly. Our findings might help to understand the traditional use of OLE in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.


Verapamil is part of my suggested Polypill for classic autism.  Several readers of this blog are successfully using Verapamil, this inexpensive L-type calcium channel blocker. 

Many other readers are unable to access Verapamil.

As many other parents are already using OLE as a treatment for autism, it would seem plausible that it is the calcium channel blocking effects that make it effective.  You can search on Google to see the dosage they use.

Interestingly a randomized controlled double-blind crossover trial in New Zealand found that olive leaf extract capsules significantly improved insulin sensitivity and pancreatic β-cell responsiveness in middle-aged overweight men.



OLE is known to be an antioxidant, which is another useful property.  As we have seen before, antioxidants do improve insulin sensitivity.  We also saw how Verapamil protected pancreatic β-cells from damage that leads to type 2 diabetes.  This is why older people on Verapamil, for high blood pressure, tend not to develop type 2 diabetes.

It does look like OLE could have some of the autism benefits of Verapamil, as well as other properties.


Verapamil is standardized and extremely cheap, so I will be sticking with that. Olé!