The involvement of peripheral nervous system in autism

Takeaway

  • Small fiber pathology is involved in the sensory abnormality observed in individuals with autism.

Why this matters

  • It is thought that both small and large fibers contribute to the sensory abnormality in autism, which has been reported by >70% of people with this condition.

  • Most of the current research has focused on brain-specific mechanisms and this is one of the few studies investigating the role of the peripheral nervous system in autism.

  • In their previous study, the authors found that when they applied contact evoked potential (CHEP) on autism individuals (which records the physiology of brain responses to thermal and nociceptive stimulation), they had a smaller amplitude and longer latency in response to thermal stimuli compared with controls. Furthermore, the authors observed that CHEP amplitude is linearly correlated with the degree of skin innervation by measuring intraepidermal nerve fiber (IENF) density, which led them to investigate the role of small fiber pathology in attenuated patterns of CHEP in individuals with this condition.