Genetic Link Between Autism and Epilepsy

A new study has linked epilepsy and autism via genetics.

Researchers from the University of Montreal have determined the synapsin gene or SYN1 is the link between the two neurological disorders. A mutation of the gene can cause communication problems between neurons in the central nervous system. Researchers say this information will help treat both conditions in the future.

Scientists have long suspected there was a link between epilepsy and autism but were unable to say for sure. An estimated one third of the people who have been diagnosed with autism also suffer from epilepsy. Families that have one member with epilepsy are more likely to have another member who has autism.

For this particular study, researchers studied one large French-Canadian family. Each member of the family is either autistic or has epilepsy. Dr. Patrick Cossette led the research and discovered that each member of the family had some mutation of the SYN1 gene. A larger study evaluated people from the Quebec area.

The study determined that one percent of the autistic patients had the mutated gene and three percent of the epileptic patients carried the mutated version of SYN1. Research showed those carrying the mutated gene were more likely to be diagnosed with both conditions.

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