Friday, February 27, 2009

Exogenous or endogenous

I pose this question to the autism community. Is autism exogenous or endogenous to the brain? That is, is the cause or the origin of autism external to the brain or is the cause inside the brain. Are the brain issues from something happening inside the brain or do they originate from a condition outside the brain?

For many this question will be meaningless. For others, it may even be threatening. But for you in the autism community who play bridge, it is a trick question. For those of us who play bridge, we often play hands where the only way to make them is for the cards to lie a certain way. When that happens, the professionals who write bridge columns in the newspaper tell you that if the cards have to lie a certain way to make the hand you assume that the cards lie that way and play to win.

If autism is endogenous, then everything lies behind the blood brain barrier. Any drug or treatment that would be applied to an autistic individual has to penetrate the blood brain barrier without compromising it. To compromise the blood brain barrier to treat autism is to fix one problem while causing another. Gene therapy is a long time away and may not happen in my lifetime or even my autistic son's lifetime. The assumption that autism is endogenous is a losing assumption, even if it is right.

On the other hand, if autism or its symptoms are exogenous then they lie outside the blood brain barrier and therefore are treatable. It would then be possible for effective medical treatment to be found in my lifetime and the lifetime of my son. That makes the assumptim that autism is exogenous a winning assumption, even if it is wrong. When it comes to autism, I want to play to win.

Fortunately, there are indicators that autism or at least some of its symptoms are exogenous. The first indicator that I saw came from Dr. Rosemary Waring. She measured how long it took autistic children to process tylenol through their bloodstreams and out through their kidneys. Autistic children were almost without exception statistical outliers taking statistically impossible times given they were part of the normal population. Autistics, like alzheimers, parkinson's, down's syndrome, Lou Gehrig's, alcoholic's dementia all have abnormalities in glutathione levels with the levels being low. The reason for the GFCF diet is that peptide products were found in the urine of many autistic children. These peptides belong locked up in the intestines and not in the blood stream. If the blood gut barrier is compromised, does it not also stand to reason that the blood brain barrier could also be compromised? Note that all of these are occurring outside the brain and therefore they should be treatable.

This posting is meant to inform the reader of my opinion. Autism is most likely exogenous and therefore should be medically treatable. Indicators are not proof, but I will not try to prove this. The exogenous assumption is a winning assumption and the endogenous assumption is a losing assumption. For my son's sake I will only bet on the exogenous assumption.

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