Stress contributes to the development of autism — the research of Russian scientists

Chronic anxiety can be a cause of autism. This conclusion was made by Siberian scientists who watched the mice experiencing constant stress, the rodents showed signs of severe mental disorder.


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As it became known “MK”, recently, scientists from the Institute of Cytology and genetics SB RAS summarized the results of the experiments that were to determine the degree of influence of stress on the state and behavior of mice. Males-rodent pairs were placed in adjacent cells separated by a transparent partition with holes: once a day the partition was raised, and rodents began to “sort things out” in the struggle for territory. The result has become obvious the type of behavior each of the males — aggressive or subordinate. After 20 days of experiment mice were moved into cells with the peace-loving partners, but to the “peaceful life” the animals were not ready. Males aggressive type avoided the friendly “neighbors” or attacked them constantly and erratically moved around the cage. The males of secondary type, on the contrary, huddled in the corner, not paying any attention, “neighbor”: they would spend hours brushing their fur and were indifferent to the environment. It is the behavior of the subordinate mice was like a scientist of human autism, the main symptoms of which are the avoidance of social contacts, inappropriate behavior in the social environment and restricted, repetitive behavior. According to experts, prolonged exposure to negative environments (in this case — aggressive contacts with other people) lead to behaviour change, which is accompanied by a decrease in communicative and inadequate perception of what is happening. Such signs in mice was maintained throughout the test (about a week), but in the future, scientists plan to analyze the effects of social stress, which will manifest itself later.

— That autism in humans is a result of a combination of genetic factors and environmental factors, have begun to say recently, — explains senior researcher of the sector neurogenetic social behavior ICG SB RAS, Irina Kovalenko. — Prior to this, autism was considered a disease of development, formed under the influence of hereditary factors, or when exposed to negative environmental factors during intrauterine or early postnatal periods. And our work proves that the symptoms of the autism spectrum can develop under prolonged exposure to adverse factors of the social environment.

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