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Current Pharmaceutical Design


ISSN (Print): 1381-6128
ISSN (Online): 1873-4286

Review Article

Dysregulation of Circadian Rhythms in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Author(s): Luciana Pinato*, Caio Sergio Galina Spilla, Regina Pekelmann Markus and Sanseray da Silveira Cruz-Machado

Volume 25 , Issue 41 , 2019

Page: [4379 - 4393] Pages: 15

DOI: 10.2174/1381612825666191102170450

Price: $65


Background: The alterations in neurological and neuroendocrine functions observed in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) involves environmentally dependent dysregulation of neurodevelopment, in interaction with multiple coding gene defects. Disturbed sleep-wake patterns, as well as abnormal melatonin and glucocorticoid secretion, show the relevance of an underlying impairment of the circadian timing system to the behavioral phenotype of ASD. Thus, understanding the mechanisms involved in the circadian dysregulation in ASD could help to identify early biomarkers to improve the diagnosis and therapeutics as well as providing a significant impact on the lifelong prognosis.

Objective: In this review, we discuss the organization of the circadian timing system and explore the connection between neuroanatomic, molecular, and neuroendocrine responses of ASD and its clinical manifestations. Here we propose interconnections between circadian dysregulation, inflammatory baseline and behavioral changes in ASD. Taking into account, the high relevancy of melatonin in orchestrating both circadian timing and the maintenance of physiological immune quiescence, we raise the hypothesis that melatonin or analogs should be considered as a pharmacological approach to suppress inflammation and circadian misalignment in ASD patients.

Strategy: This review provides a comprehensive update on the state-of-art of studies related to inflammatory states and ASD with a special focus on the relationship with melatonin and clock genes. The hypothesis raised above was analyzed according to the published data.

Conclusion: Current evidence supports the existence of associations between ASD to circadian dysregulation, behavior problems, increased inflammatory levels of cytokines, sleep disorders, as well as reduced circadian neuroendocrine responses. Indeed, major effects may be related to a low melatonin rhythm. We propose that maintaining the proper rhythm of the circadian timing system may be helpful to improve the health and to cope with several behavioral changes observed in ASD subjects.

Keywords: Autism, neuroinflammation, circadian rhythm, sleep-wake cycle, clock genes, suprachiasmatic nucleus, melatonin.

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