Research Article Open Access

A Microscopic Study of Language-Related Cortex in Autism

Edith López-Hurtado1 and Jorge J. Prieto1
  • 1 University Miguel Hernandez, Spain


Impaired language function is a principle criterion for the diagnosis of autism. The present study of brain from age-matched autistic and control subjects compared brain regions associated with the production and processing of speech. Wernicke's area (Brodmann 22, speech recognition), Broca's area (Brodmann 44, speech production) andthe gyrus angularis (Brodmann 39, reading) from autistic subjects (7-44 years of age) and control subjects (8-56 years of age) were examined microscopically. Striking differences in the density of glial cells, the density of neurons andthe number of lipofuscin-containing neurons were observed in the autistic group compared with the control group. The mean density of glial cells was greater in the autistic cohort than controls in area 22 (p<0.001), area 39 (p<0.01) andarea 44 (p<0.05). The density of neurons was lesser in autism in area 22 (p<0.01) and area 39 (p<0.01). The autistic group exhibited significantly greater numbers of lipofuscin-containing cells in area 22 (p<0.001) and area 39 (p<0.01). The results are consistent with accelerated neuronal death in association with gliosis and lipofuscin accumulation in autism after age seven. Production of lipofuscin (a matrix of oxidized lipid and cross-linked protein more commonly associated with neurodegenerative disease) is accelerated under conditions of oxidative stress. Area 22 in autism evidenced the greatest glial increase, the greatest neuronal decrease andthe greatest increase of non-specific cells containing lipofuscin, which itself may contribute to greater free-radical generation in brain.

American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Volume 4 No. 2, 2008, 130-145


Submitted On: 31 July 2007 Published On: 30 June 2008

How to Cite: López-Hurtado, E. & Prieto, J. J. (2008). A Microscopic Study of Language-Related Cortex in Autism. American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 4(2), 130-145.

  • 41 Citations



  • Autism
  • cerebral cortex
  • gliosis
  • lipofuscin
  • oxidative stress