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Stage Three: Detoxification
What is methylation/trans-sulfuration pathway and how does it play a part in detoxification?
This is the "heart" of the biomedical approach to autism treatments. Many children on the autism spectrum have deficiencies with pathways that effect proper excretion of toxins and as a result, may suffer from an accumulation of toxin burden within their bodies. It is crucial, however, that their gastrointestinal tract is balanced, in order to proceed to this level of care. Supplements used on the Autism Biomedical Approach must be sufficiently absorbed within the gut to target detoxification pathways in the safest and most effective way. There are two pathways that are the focus on the Autism Biomedical Approach: Methlyation Synthesis and Transulfuration Pathways.
In simple terms, methylation is a process in which certain chemicals called ‘methyl groups’ (bear with me, it gets easier as you read on :) are added to various constituents of proteins, DNA and other molecules. These are needed to keep them in good ‘working’ condition. For example, if the ‘feel-good’ brain chemical serotonin is not methylated it will become inactive which in turn leads to depression, anxiety, and a feeling of disconnection to the world. This is just one of the many ‘chemicals’ in the body that essential for overall health.
Probably the most important methylation process is when it is applied to homocysteine (see diagram below). Homocysteine is a by-product of an important amino acid called methionine and is what remains when methionine is used to methylate your proteins and DNA. Homocysteine needs to be methylated to convert it back to Methylation so certain parts of your DNA can switch off unnecessary genes and prevent abnormal DNA division (epigenetics). This means that these abnormalities are not passed on to future generations of cells.
LETS TAKE A CLOSER LOOK:
Abbreviations for the diagram are: THF: tetrahydrofolate; MS: methionine synthase; BHMT: betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase; MAT: methionine adenosyltransferase; SAM: S-adenosylmethionine; SAH S-adenosylhomocysteine; SAHH: SAH hydrolase; ADA: adenosine deaminase; AK: adenosine kinase; CBS: cystathionine beta synthase
THE PROCESS OF PRODUCING GLUTATHIONE: THE BODY'S ANTI-OXIDANT
This diagram depicts the series of metabolic reactions that occurs to convert methionine to glutathione. The items in yellow are catalysts/enzymes that act upon one molecule to create another molecule. For example, Methionine is acted upon by MAT to create SAM, which is then used to create SAH, then Homocysteine, Cystathionine, Cysteine, and finally Glutathione. Because there are only a few amino acids that are sulfur based, and these amino acids are needed to produce Glutathione, this pathway is called the Transulfuration Pathway. Glutathione is used to remove toxins from the body and is reconverted into methionine, during methylation process, and the methionine/glutathione transsulfuration pathway cycle is repeated. This process is crucial to be repeated and any steps within this cycle that are disrupted can cause havac to these pathways.
If the methylation/transsulfuration pathways are disrupted, it can cause various health problems but most importantly, diminish the removal of toxic burden from the body. As with everything related to successful health, methylation/transsulfuration pathways must be in balanced. Too much can be as bad as too little. Fortunately, your body will balance your Methylation processes providing that you give it the ‘fuel’ to perform the task.
What is the fuel?
There are three groups of compounds that are helpful in the Methylation/Transulfuration Pathway with varying levels of efficacy. There are deficiencies such as B6, B12 and folic acid, Tri-Methyl-Glycine TMG, (also known as Betaine), and SAMe that effect these pathways. If digestion is disrupted in any way, these vitamins tend to become a bit ‘sluggish’ and as such progressively less effective.
Necessary testing is crucial to detect any deficiencies of these vital nutrients in the body. These are some of the tests needed to begin the Autism Biomedical Approach.
Organic Acid Test (OAT)
Oxidative Stress Test
Contact Developmental Crossroads before trying any new diet/supplement.