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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 398636, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/398636
Review Article

The Molecular Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Genomic Mechanisms, Neuroimmunopathology, and Clinical Implications

Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy Physiology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA

Received 15 August 2010; Accepted 29 March 2011

Academic Editor: David Posey

Copyright © 2011 Daniel J. Guerra. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have become increasingly common in recent years. The discovery of single-nucleotide polymorphisms and accompanying copy number variations within the genome has increased our understanding of the architecture of the disease. These genetic and genomic alterations coupled with epigenetic phenomena have pointed to a neuroimmunopathological mechanism for ASD. Model animal studies, developmental biology, and affective neuroscience laid a foundation for dissecting the neural pathways impacted by these disease-generating mechanisms. The goal of current autism research is directed toward a systems biological approach to find the most basic genetic and environmental causes to this severe developmental disease. It is hoped that future genomic and neuroimmunological research will be directed toward finding the road toward prevention, treatment, and cure of ASD.