Disruption of cholesterol metabolism has been hypothesized to contribute to dementia, possibly due to its role in maintaining membrane fluidity as well as the integrity of lipid rafts. Previously, we reported an apparent inverse relationship between membrane cholesterol levels and those of GM1, another lipid that can be found in rafts. This paper describes the observation that red blood cell (RBC) membranes isolated from blood drawn from children diagnosed with autism have on the average significantly less cholesterol and significantly more GM1 than RBC membranes isolated from blood obtained from control children. While cholesterol in the circulation does not cross the blood brain barrier, a generalized defect in its synthesis could affect its concentration in the central nervous system and that, coupled with a change in ganglioside expression, could contribute to development of the behaviors associated with autism.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience