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Wednesday, October 19, 2011
HOUSTON -- (Oct. 19, 2011) -- A review of the genetic and biochemical abnormalities associated with autism reveals a possible link between the widely diagnosed neurological disorder and Type 2 diabetes, another medical disorder on the rise in recent decades.
"It appears that both Type 2 diabetes and autism have a common underlying mechanism -- impaired glucose tolerance and hyperinsulinemia," said Rice University biochemist Michael Stern, author of the opinion paper, which appears online in this month's issue of Frontiers in Cellular Endocrinology.
Hyperinsulinemia, often a precursor to insulin resistance, is a condition characterized by excess levels of insulin in the bloodstream. Insulin resistance is often associated with both obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
"It will be very easy for clinicians to test my hypothesis," said Stern, professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice. "They could do this by putting autistic children on low-carbohydrate diets that minimize insulin secretion and see if their symptoms improve."