Tuesday, July 6, 2010

more on prednisone, inflammation

I actually just discovered some FAQs on the website of the Johns Hopkins Neuroimmunopathology website about inflammation in autistic individuals and it was VERY informative! I wish I had found it first! Here's my Cliff Notes version:

1) There is inflammation in the brains of autistic individuals, and it is chronic. Maybe not all of them, but many of them.

2) Inflammation can be both good and bad, because it is a way to repair. It could be that the inflammation is in response to something else that is bad.

3) Most of the inflammation is in the cerebellum, predominantly in the Purkinje cell layer and the granular cell layer.

4) They characterize their findings as "consistent with an active and ongoing postnatal process of neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation" -- i.e., they don't know for sure that is what is going on, but that is what they suspect.

5) Prednisone and other steroids would not have any impact on the particular kind of inflammation that they found. Their study did not find evidence of the kind of inflammation that prednisone and other steroids addresses.

So this would seem to suggest that if the Prednisone was responsible for the astonishing things I saw in T last week, it is not due to an anti-inflammatory effect.

However, I am nonetheless extremely troubled by these findings. It is extremely upsetting. These FAQs are making comparisons to horrible conditions like HIV dementia, multiple sclerosis, ALS and stroke. The idea that this could be going on in my child's brain is, I will admit, making me feel rather panicky.

It is so hard for me to believe that this is coincidental when my son has also been having breathing problems that are also apparently caused by excessive inflammation.

And now I am wondering about something else: migraines. He has for as long as he's been able to communicate at all indicated pain in his nose/facial mask area. I have repeatedly raised it with the pediatrician but she either blew it off or blamed it on a head cold. When I took him to the ENT for what was supposed to be a swallow study (a story for another day), the ENT also dismissed it, and said his nose looked fine. He keeps telling me "it's hurting," but when I ask him where, he puts his hands over his face. What does that mean?

Well, while trying to research asthma(!) I came across an article in Web MD suggesting that asthma may be linked to migraines. What I was really surprised by was a statement that migraines are also caused by inflammation. I haven't really dug into this, but the article says:

Asthma and migraine share many inflammatory chemicals that are released during an attack, Cady says. “There’s a host of common neurotransmitters that are shared here,” he says, including calcitonin gene-related peptide, histamines and cytokines. “Those are names for inflammatory chemicals that get activated both during asthma and during migraine,” he says.

I don't know anything about Cady except this says he's an MD with some sort of practice specializing in headeaches, but this is really interesting. I had assumed that T's pain was coming from sinuses/allergies, but this article says that this is an assumption many people mistakenly make, and that asthma can in fact be responsible for these kinds of headaches.

Could T be having an asthma headache?? How would I know? He has decreased sensitivity to pain ... might this make him even less communicative than he is already inclined to be about such a problem? Again, how can I know?

I have had such demoralizing experiences with the pediatrician, the ENT, the developmental pediatrician, the ER doctor. Oh,yeah, and the orthopedic surgeon. They either are not interested in the whole picture, too impatient to listen to the whole story, not entirely up to date on everything, or in too big a hurry to impart what I consider to be full information. In short, I have to date found consulting MDs is a good thing to do when your kid is threatened with immediate physical danger, but not terribly helpful toward trying to actually achieve something more. Now that I am paying it all out of pocket, I am having a hard time bring myself to make the appointement with the pulmonologist and/or the allergist.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how familiar you are with what is called the blood brain barrier. Basically, in the early 1900s, a researcher injected blue dye into a mouse, and then killed the mouse and investigated its blood. He found that the blood had turned blue everywhere except for the brain, indicating that there is some wall barrier between the brain and the rest of the blood.

    Some drugs are capable of crossing the blood brain barrier. Some are not. It could be that prednisone is ineffective because it cannot cross the blood brain barrier. You may want to ask about blood brain barrier crossing ability of various drugs your child's doctor.

    Interesting fact: Heroin and morphine are effectively the same drug, in that heroin gets converted into morphine in the brain, and it is really the morphine that causes you to get high. The reason heroin is more addictive than morphine is simply because heroin crosses the blood brain barrier better than morphine.