Autism Spectrum Disorder: Signaling Pathways and Prospective Therapeutic Targets

Juliana Baranova, Guilherme Dragunas, Mayara C S Botellho, Ana Luisa P Ayub, Rebeca Bueno-Alves, Rebeca R Alencar, Debora D Papaiz, Mari C Sogayar, Henning Ulrich, Ricardo G Correa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) consists of a prevalent and heterogeneous group of neurodevelopmental diseases representing a severe burden to affected individuals and their caretakers. Despite substantial improvement towards understanding of ASD etiology and pathogenesis, as well as increased social awareness and more intensive research, no effective drugs have been successfully developed to resolve the main and most cumbersome ASD symptoms. Hence, finding better treatments, which may act as "disease-modifying" agents, and novel biomarkers for earlier ASD diagnosis and disease stage determination are needed. Diverse mutations of core components and consequent malfunctions of several cell signaling pathways have already been found in ASD by a series of experimental platforms, including genetic associations analyses and studies utilizing pre-clinical animal models and patient samples. These signaling cascades govern a broad range of neurological features such as neuronal development, neurotransmission, metabolism, and homeostasis, as well as immune regulation and inflammation. Here, we review the current knowledge on signaling pathways which are commonly disrupted in ASD and autism-related conditions. As such, we further propose ways to translate these findings into the development of genetic and biochemical clinical tests for early autism detection. Moreover, we highlight some putative druggable targets along these pathways, which, upon further research efforts, may evolve into novel therapeutic interventions for certain ASD conditions. Lastly, we also refer to the crosstalk among these major signaling cascades as well as their putative implications in therapeutics. Based on this collective information, we believe that a timely and accurate modulation of these prominent pathways may shape the neurodevelopment and neuro-immune regulation of homeostatic patterns and, hopefully, rescue some (if not all) ASD phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCellular and molecular neurobiology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28-May-2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • NF-KAPPA-B
  • SONIC HEDGEHOG PROTEIN
  • FRAGILE-X-SYNDROME
  • RETINOIC ACID
  • NERVOUS-SYSTEM
  • TGF-BETA
  • NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR
  • WNT/BETA-CATENIN
  • OXIDATIVE STRESS
  • ANIMAL-MODEL

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