Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN)
June 21, 2019
By studying the effects of propionic acid (PPA) — a preservative added to many processed foods— on fetal brain development, researchers have found a link to a rise in autism symptoms. They decided to study the effects on brain cells, knowing that autistic children commonly have gastro-intestinal issues, such as IBS, and have been shown to have a higher level of PPA in their stool.
When neural stem cells are exposed to PPA, it damages them in several ways, causing inflammation and interfering with their ability to communicate with the rest of the body, including the gut.
“This research is only the first step towards a better understanding of autism spectrum disorder,” the UCF scientists concluded. “But we have confidence we are on the right track to finally uncovering autism etiology.”