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Potential link between PTSD and autism found in mice

Potential link between PTSD and autism found in mice
Credit: iScience (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2024.109747

People on the autism spectrum are predisposed to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Queensland has shown.

The research also found PTSD can lead to the aggravation of core traits of autism such as repetitive behavior.

The study, published in the journal iScience, showed that while generally PTSD is triggered by an extreme stress, a single mild stress can be enough to produce a traumatic memory in those with (ASD).

Senior author Dr. Nathalie Dehorter said the study—conducted on mice—was able to pinpoint the mechanisms in the brain that might be responsible for this occurrence.

"While heightened sensitivity to stress and trauma has been a rising concern in ASD, the consequences have been largely overlooked until now," Dr. Dehorter said.

"We were able to show the specific brain circuit alteration that's underlying the hypersensitivity to stress in ASD. We know what's happening at the cellular and at the structural level in the ."

Lead author on the study, Dr. Shaam Al Abed, said, "Understanding this hypersensitivity is crucial to treating those traumatic memories with the right behavioral therapy. By recontextualizing the traumatic memory, we can hopefully alleviate the worsening of those core traits."

Dr. Al Abed said the results could help both clinicians and people on the autism spectrum.

"PTSD in autism is currently challenging to diagnose," she said. "If we can understand a bit more about the underlying mechanisms, it will go a long way to making sure people are managing their symptoms appropriately."

According to the researchers, the study also supports the idea that everyday life situations—like entering a particularly noisy or unfamiliar environment—can be experienced as traumatic by neurodivergent populations.

The study calls for better awareness of PTSD in autism, to allow for efficient intervention for those more likely to experience trauma.

"Timely detection appears to be essential, especially if PTSD can worsen the core ASD traits," Dr. Dehorter said. "We need more research into the overlap between these two conditions."

More information: Alice Shaam Al Abed et al, Parvalbumin interneuron activity in autism underlies susceptibility to PTSD-like memory formation, iScience (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2024.109747

Journal information: iScience
Citation: Potential link between PTSD and autism found in mice (2024, May 8) retrieved 22 June 2024 from
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