Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception Institut Neurosciences Cognition Université Paris Descartes Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
Home
Research
vision Vision
action Action
speech Speech
avoc AVoC
support support staff
People
Former Staff
Teaching
Publications
Ethics
Events
Practical

Calendar
Opportunities
Internships
Contracts
Platforms
Links

Baby Lab

Intranet
Gene environment interactions in autism spectrum disorders : role of epigenetic mechanisms

Several studies support currently the hypothesis that autism etiology is based on a polygenic and epistatic model. However, despite advances in epidemiological, molecular and clinical genetics, the genetic risk factors remain difficult to identify, with the exception of a few chromosomal disorders and several single gene disorders associated with an increased risk for autism. Furthermore, several studies suggest a role of environmental factors in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). First, arguments for a genetic contribution to autism, based on updated family and twin studies, are examined. Second, a review of possible prenatal, perinatal and postnatal environmental risk factors for ASD are presented. Then, the hypotheses are discussed concerning the underlying mechanisms related to a role of environmental factors in the development of ASD in association with genetic factors. In particular, epigenetics as a candidate biological mechanism for gene X environment interactions is considered and the possible role of epigenetic mechanisms reported in genetic disorders associated with ASD is discussed. Furthermore, the example of in utero exposure to valproate provides a good illustration of epigenetic mechanisms involved in ASD and innovative therapeutic strategies. Epigenetic remodeling by environmental factors opens new perspectives for a better understanding, prevention and early therapeutic intervention of ASD.