Abnormal sense of touch may play role in autism | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


News

Abnormal sense of touch may play role in autism

In mice, mutations in autism-related genes in skin nerve cells linked to anxiety, poor social skills

By
12:18pm, June 9, 2016
diagrams of mouse paths

AROUND AND AROUND  Compared with normal mice, mice that carried a mutated form of the autism-related Mecp2 gene in their peripheral nerve cells avoided the center of an enclosure, a sign of anxiety. 

Most people think that autism is a disorder of the brain. But the skin may play a role, too, a new study suggests.

Nerve cells in the skin are abnormal in mice with mutations in autism-related genes, leading to poor touch perception, scientists report June 9 in Cell. This trouble sensing touch may influence the developing brain in a way that leads to social deficits and anxiety later in life.

The results raise the provocative idea that fixing abnormal senses may alleviate some of the behavioral symptoms of autism, says study coauthor David Ginty, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content