Can the Peptide Neurotensin Connect the Dots and Serve as Novel Target for Autism Therapy?

Serum levels of a peptide called neurotensin were significantly higher in young children with autism. This peptide is unique because it is found in the brain, the gut, and the skin, where it has pro-inflammatory actions. The highest concentration of receptors for neurotensin in the brain is in the diencephalon that controls emotions and in the Broca area that regulates speech. Neurotensin can activate glial cells that contribute to brain inflammation, has cytotoxic actions on neurons, and increases seizure activity in animal models as well as activating mast cells. Blocking the action of neurotensin could serve as a unique therapeutic approach for autism.

Theoharis C. Theoharides, PhD, MD, FAAAAI

He is Director of Molecular Immunopharmacology & Drug Discovery Lab, Professor of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Internal Medicine at Tufts University. He trained at Yale University and has over 290 publications. He showed that mast cells secrete inflammatory mediators that disrupt the gut-blood-brain barriers, thus playing a critical role in brain inflammation and autism. Dr. Theoharides extends his expertise beyond theory into practical options for patients with diseases that have defied treatment to date.