Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Acetylcholine: Definition

  • Karthikeyan ArdhanareeswaranEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102053-1

Synonyms

Definition

Acetylcholine (ACh) is a neurotransmitter critical in an individual’s ability to assess their surroundings and respond accordingly. More specifically, ACh functions to evaluate the potential reward and/or threat in a certain stimuli or environmental change and act on it. With roles in regulating attention, cognitive flexibility, social interactions, and stereotypical behaviors, ACh has been heavily implicated in autism. ASD patients show unusually sized, numbered, and structured neurons in the acetylcholine output centers of the basal forebrain as well as decreased concentrations of choline, a precursor of ACh. Low levels of choline have also been correlated with autism severity. Postmortem studies reveal a reduction of ACh receptor and receptor subunits. At the genetic level, mutations and duplications in genes encoding various ACh receptor subunits have been found in ASD patients. Furthermore, mutagenesis, inhibition, and/or deletion of various...

Keywords

Autism Spectrum Disorder Receptor Subunit Basal Forebrain Cognitive Flexibility Stereotypical Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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References and Reading

  1. Belmonte, M. K., Cook, E. H., Anderson, G. M., Rubenstein, J. L., Greenough, W. T., Beckel-Mitchener, A., … & Tierney, E. (2004). Autism as a disorder of neural information processing: Directions for research and targets for therapy. Molecular psychiatry, 9(7), 646–663.Google Scholar
  2. Deutsch, S. I., Urbano, M. R., Neumann, S. A., Burket, J. A., & Katz, E. (2010). Cholinergic abnormalities in autism: Is there a rationale for selective nicotinic agonist interventions? Clinical Neuropharmacology, 33(3), 114.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  4. Karvat, G., & Kimchi, T. (2013). Acetylcholine elevation relieves cognitive rigidity and social deficiency in a mouse model of autism. Neuropsychopharmacology, 39, 831.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autism Program, Child Study CenterYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Program in Neurodevelopment and RegenerationYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA