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  Fibroblast Growth Factor 2

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Fibroblast Growth Factor 2

Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 (FGF2) has been used by some parents, with both positive reports and reports that it makes children hyperactive and regressed. Some say it will not work unless seizure activity is under control. Many parents and professionals believe that seizures among autistic children are caused by the buildup of peptides and the chemical imbalance caused by partly digested proteins, gluten, dairy, or other foods.

Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., of the Autism Research Institute (ARI), reports in "Our children: Victims of both autism and dogma", that "Dr. Luis Aguilar of Mexico has used a different approach, injections of FGF (fibroblast growth factor), with what so far appear to be promising results."

Also, Flora M. Vaccarino, M.D., at the Yale School of Medicine, writes concerning Fibroblast Growth Factor 2:

"The cerebral cortex controls higher cognitive functions. Connections between the cortex and basal ganglia control motor and cognitive programs, whereas connections between the cortex and the medial temporal region and amygdala mediate emotional behavior. Abnormalities in the development of the cerebral cortex and associated structures have been suggested to occur in several neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, autism and obsessive compulsive disorder.

The human cortex is about 1000-fold greater than that of the mouse. This increase is largely due to an increase in surface area. Cortical surface area may be correlated with a higher capacity to perform increasingly complex cognitive operations.

Cerebral cortical neurons are generated during embryogenesis by the proliferation of cells situated around the lateral ventricles. Three factors can potentially influence the total number of cells generated and thus the final size of the cerebral cortex. These are the number of cortical progenitor cells present before neurogenesis starts (the founder cell population), the number of proliferative cycles these cells undergo before differentiating, and the amount of cell death.

Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), is a potent mitogen for cortical progenitor cells in vitro, particularly for the precursors of glutamatergic neurons (Vaccarino et al, Cerebral Cortex, 1995). The microinjection of FGF2 in the cerebral ventricles of rat embryos increases the proliferation of cortical progenitors in vivo, resulting in a dramatic expansion of cerebral cortical volume, total cell number and surface area (Vaccarino et al, Neuroscience Abstracts, 1995). FGF2 expands the size of the cortex by over 50%, without altering its morphological features. These findings are of great interest from a developmental and evolutionary perspective and hold therapeutic promise as well, since FGF2 is one of the factors that is capable of maintaining the proliferation of stem cells in the adult mammalian brain.

Neuroimaging studies have shown that the size of the cerebral cortex is decreased in schizophrenia, and may be increased in autism. In Tourette's Syndrome, there is a decrease in volume of the basal ganglia. Furthermore, microcephalia is a common outcome of toxic and drug-related exposure during pregnancy.

Clinical correlations suggest that these alterations in size determine the type and severity of symptoms. We hypothesize that alterations in size may be caused by a different number of neurons in specific brain regions. In genetically predisposed individuals, these morphological alterations may lead to neuropsychiatric disorders. Noxae during pregnancy or in the early postnatal period (hypoxia, infections, toxic or metabolic exposures) may affect cell number by altering mechanisms of cell growth or by directly enhancing cell death. We are conducting a stereological analysis of post-mortem brain material to assess the total number of neurons of defined brain areas in specific neuropsychiatric disorders."

(Excerpted from Dr. Flora M. Vaccarino's site at the Yale School of Medicine's Child Study Center and Department of Neurobiology.)
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