The plausibility of a role for mercury in the etiology of autism : a cellular perspective

Garrecht, Matthew and Austin, David W. 2011, The plausibility of a role for mercury in the etiology of autism : a cellular perspective, Toxicological and environmental chemistry, vol. 93, no. 6, pp. 1251-1273, doi: 10.1080/02772248.2011.580588.

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Title The plausibility of a role for mercury in the etiology of autism : a cellular perspective
Author(s) Garrecht, Matthew
Austin, David W.ORCID iD for Austin, David W.
Journal name Toxicological and environmental chemistry
Volume number 93
Issue number 6
Start page 1251
End page 1273
Total pages 23
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2011
ISSN 0277-2248
Keyword(s) autism
oxidative stress
immune dysfunction
Summary Autism is defined by a behavioral set of stereotypic and repetitious behavioral patterns in combination with social and communication deficits. There is emerging evidence supporting the hypothesis that autism may result from a combination of genetic susceptibility and exposure to environmental toxins at critical moments in development. Mercury (Hg) is recognized as a ubiquitous environmental neurotoxin and there is mounting evidence linking it to neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism. Of course, the evidence is not derived from experimental trials with humans but rather from methods focusing on biomarkers of Hg damage, measurements of Hg exposure, epidemiological data, and animal studies. For ethical reasons, controlled Hg exposure in humans will never be conducted. Therefore, to properly evaluate the Hg-autism etiological hypothesis, it is essential to first establish the biological plausibility of the hypothesis. This review examines the plausibility of Hg as the primary etiological agent driving the cellular mechanisms by which Hg-induced neurotoxicity may result in the physiological attributes of autism. Key areas of focus include: (1) route and cellular mechanisms of Hg exposure in autism; (2) current research and examples of possible genetic variables that are linked to both Hg sensitivity and autism; (3) the role Hg may play as an environmental toxin fueling the oxidative stress found in autism; (4) role of mitochondrial dysfunction; and (5) possible role of Hg in abnormal neuroexcitory and excitotoxity that may play a role in the immune dysregulation found in autism. Future research directions that would assist in addressing the gaps in our knowledge are proposed.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/02772248.2011.580588
Field of Research 179999 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2011, Taylor & Francis
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Psychology
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