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DNA Tag: ‘Methylation State’ Amenable to Autism Treatment

The aetiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder is complex. There are a hundred genetic variants and numerous environmental factors that might be considered a trigger agent. Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that this neurodevelopmental disorder also has a male to female prevalence of 4.3:1. Specialists and other medical professionals are constantly diving into a plethora of treatment possibilities. A growing body of research into possible methods of autism treatment has medical professionals picking and probing at the impairing of methylation.

We at Small Steps Big Dreams, Dubai, UAE, believe it to be our responsibility to spread awareness regarding ASD. Not only as citizens of the global community, but also as an inclusion centre, we find it of utmost significance to reach out to the autistic child. After all, the more one knows about the various facets of a condition, the more one can remain aware and help those undergoing said condition.



This is a biochemical process where the methyl groups are added to a DNA molecule. In the procedure of Methylation, the DNA segments can be changed without needlessly affecting the sequence. When located in a gene promoter, DNA methylation typically acts to subjugate a gene transcription. Simply put, DNA methylation is fundamental for normal development, and is associated with several key processes which include: genomic imprinting, X-chromosome inactivation, the repression of transposable elements, ageing, and carcinogenesis.


DNA methylation entails multiple adaptation types, some of which are specifically enriched in the nervous system. DNA methylation, gene expression affiliation and the dynamics of modifications during brain development, all depend on the genomic context.


Blocking DNA Tagging

Valerie W. Hu, PhD,  and her team from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C,  have discovered a way to detect the disorder. They employed the method of using blood and potential medicinal drugs that affect the methylation state (“DNA tagging”) of genes. According to them, this might just lead to solving the question of treament for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In their study, they determined chemical changes in DNA taken from cells of identical twins and sibling pairs, in which only one of the twins or sibling was realized to be an autistic child. The researchers then correlated genes that showed changes in DNA tagging, with a list of genes that showed different levels of expression from these siblings diagnosed with autism. The colleagues calculated the amount of protein product, originated by two genes that appear on both lists in autistic and control regions of the cerebellum and frontal cortex of the brain.

The result was as they had envisioned- the expansion in DNA tagging was repressed in the autistic brain. This investigation suggests that hindering the chemical tagging of these genes may reverse symptoms of the disorder. This might also testify and establish the expediency of using more easily accessible cells from blood for future autism diagnoses.


Treatment Through Supplements

Treatment is directed at correcting the metabolic deterioration that involves methylation. To increase our knowledge so as to support autism therapy in Dubai, we delved further into this research, which showed the following as key components in said correcting of deterioration: betaine, folinic acid and methylcobalamin. These might be supplemented to support deficient pathways and improve ASD manifestation. Laboratory tests can only be taken into consideration so far where the use of these supplements is required. The main problem that arises has more to do with functional metabolic shortcomings than a classic vitamin insufficiency.


Alternatively, there is another method that can be used: administering methylcobalamin via metered-dose nasal spray. The advantage here is that administration is comparatively easier, and it affects increased compliance and rapid results. Generic prescription protocols are 625µg of methyl B12 (12.5mg/ml) per spray, while for children specifically one spray in one nostril once per day or every other day is recommended (Kurtz, 2007).


Hopeful and Effective Treatment for ASD

Reviewing methylation deficits is a promising area of treatment in ASD, as its effects are far-reaching.  This method of autism treatment can improve detoxification systems, improve antioxidant scope, support enzymatic function, and ensure proper  DNA and gene expression, possibly resulting in the reversal of autistic symptoms.

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