From Co-Cure ME/CFS & FM info Exchange Forum: Hypothesis: Posted by Rich Van Konynenburg Sat, 16 Apr 2005 01:32:45 -0400 Glutathione depletion in autism and the spin-off for CFS As regular readers on this list will know, I have been emphasizing the importance of glutathione depletion in the pathogenesis of CFS for several years now, since Dr. Paul Cheney first reported it in public talks early in 1999. I want to notify everyone here about some developments that I think are significant in this regard. About two weeks ago, on April 2, Dr. S. Jill James of the University of Arkansas gave a talk at the Experimental Biology 2005 conference in San Diego on the research she and he coworkers have done on autism. They have found that in kids with autism, the reduced form of glutathione is depleted by about 80%. This was reported in a paper they published earlier. In addition, they reported that they have now looked for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes that may account for this glutathione depletion. They found that in kids with autism, SNPs were elevated in the genes coding for the enzymes catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), glutathione-S-transferase M1, and transcobalamin II. Dr. James suggested that autism occurs when there is a combination of a certain genetic makeup and an environmental insult that interacts with it. In autism, this environmental insult may be mercury, as from the thimerosol in vaccines, which many autism parents have suspected to be involved in causing autism in their children. As most readers will know, the body uses glutathione to rid itself of mercury. In children who are less able to maintain their glutathione levels for genetic reasons, mercury may be more toxic. I think that this is very exciting. I think that there could very well turn out to be many parallels between autism and CFS. The difference may be that autism occurs when glutathione depletion occurs early in life, while CFS occurs later in life, after the brain has had a chance to develop. I think that CFS research will benefit from these developments in autism. This talk got wide news coverage around the world. The autism parents are highly motivated, and many have resources. They are politically organized and capable of exerting considerable clout. I expect an increase to occur in research into glutathione depletion and into testing for relevant SNPs. I think this can only help CFS research, since I believe that glutathione depletion is very important in CFS as well. All this is happening at the same time that a breakthrough has occurred in cystic fibrosis research that also involves glutathione (by Valerie Hudson at BYU in Utah). In cystic fibrosis, it appears that cells have difficulty in exporting glutathione. There is another highly motivated set of parents associated with this disease, and I expect that they will also be promoting research into glutathione. We all know how difficult it has been to get scientific interest and funding for research into CFS. I think we are now about to benefit from spin-offs from research into these other diseases. I think that this is a very interesting turn of events. Rich Van Konynenburg, Ph.D.