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Autism Coach

MAO-A Theory of Autism

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Researcher Elaine DeLack developed this brilliant hypothesis concerning what may be triggering the current epidemic of autism.  There is not one culprit but several, but all involve an enzyme, MAO-A.

What is MAO-A and What it Does

Monoamine Oxidase-A (MAO-A) is a mitochrondrial enzyme in the brain and liver.  Low levels of MAO-A may be a trigger for a chain of metabolic events leading to an eventual diagnosis of autism.

The mitochondrial portion of each cell produces energy.  It was originally thought that serotonin, norepiniphrine and histamine were neurotransmitters but research is showing that in fact MAO-A metabolizes them into the active metabolites that are the actual neurotransmitters. 


The image above shows the end of one neuron (left) the gap between the neurons (the synapse) and the beginning of another neuron (right).  The neuron on the left is transmitting a signal to the neuron on the right through the synapse.

Serotonin is represented by the black dots released by the neuron on the left into the synapse. 

1.  The neuron on the left produces MAO-A that metabolizes serotonin (black dots) into 5-HIAL (blue ovals). 

2.  5-HIAL binds to the receptor site on the next neuron (right) and stimulates the receptor to transmit a nerve impulse to the next neuron.

3.  Aldehyde-dehydrogenase (not shown) knocks the 5-HIAL off receptor site on the right neuron which causes it to stop firing.  It also degrades the 5-HIALinto 5-HIAA which is excreted in the urine. 

Insufficient levels of MAO could result in:

1.Levels of serotoninincreasing in the brain, resulting in the serotonin inhibiting oxytocin neuron growth, which impairs language development, bonding with others and developing social skills.

2.  Levels of histamine increasing, resulting increased disposition to developing allergies.  

Genetic & Environmental Contributing Factors

Individuals with a gene allele switch for producing low MAO-A typically have a family history of depression and other mental illness.   

MAO-A may also be depleted by stress, lipid peroxidation from breakdown of polyunsaturated fats, and high levels of aluminum mercury, copper and cadmium.

What if There's Not Enough MAO-A?

MAO-A is a crucial enzyme in the workings of the mitochondria in the cells of the brain, the portion of the cells where energy is produced.  If MAO-A doesn't break down serotonin, norepinephrine, and histamine, levels of these precursors to the actual neurotransmitters increase and remain high  in the brain. 

Decreased levels of MAO-A would result in Impaired neurological firing across synapses and could lead to impaired neurological development over time, resulting in  impaired fine and gross motor skills.

High serotonin levels could result in:

1. Stimulating release of ACTH which is often high in autism and contributes to sleep problems.

2. Increased levels of beta-endorphins, opioid like compounds, that could cause aloofness and self-injurious behavior.

3. Inhibiting development of oxytocin nerves needed for language development, bonding with others, and social skills, language development, all of which are impaired in autism.  These children are also likely to be deficient in oxytocin.

Elevated levels of histamines would lead to increased allergies and food sensitivities.  Gluten and casein increases production of serotonin even more so, resulting in worsening symptoms of autism.

Why Do 4 Times More Boys Then Girls Have Autism?

Males have increased risk of autism because they have XY chromosomes and the genetic switch for MAO-A production is only found on the X chromosome.  This means there is greater probability of a male producing less MAO-A because a girl has a greater probability of having at least one X chromosome that has the switch for producing a higher amount of MAO-A.  

What Role Do Epidurals and Pitocin Play in Triggering Autism? 

Epidurals (Ropivacain) and Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) administered to women at birth significantly deplete levels of MAO-A at birth as MAO-A is needed by the body to degrade and excrete Ropivicain and Pitocin.  Mercury and aluminum in vaccines also inhibits oxytocin.


As you can see, there is a direct correlation between numbers of epidurals and cases of autism in the United States.

Oxytocin is needed for the growth of the Hypothalamus-Neurohypophisal System (HNS) which is involved in limbic (emotional) and social behaviors.


Vasopressin changes to Oxytocin as the nerve grows.  When Oxytocin reaches a certain level, it tells the nerve to quite growing.  This is supposed to reach this level 7-10 days after birth.  No doubt this delayed development is intended by nature to enable baby and mother to meet each other for the first time and bond, resulting in the HNS nervous system maturing during the bonding process.  Unfortunately, when the mother/baby receive a massive pitocin drip, this may prematurely stop the growth of the HNS.

All of these findings further drive home how important it is to provide a calm, supportive, nurturing environment for mother and child during pregnancy, birth and after birth.  Husbands,  other relatives, and friends of the expecting/new mother take note!

Putting The Pieces of the Puzzle Together - A Scenario That Could Lead To Autism

A mother with a family history of depression gives birth to a son in a hospital with an epidural and a pitocin drip, that depletes levels of MAO-A and interferes with the development of the baby's HNS.  The child is given vaccines from birth which further deplete levels of MAO-A and results in high levels of serotonin that inhibit development of receptor sites in the brain that to produce oxytocin. Low levels of oxytocin lead to impaired development of language, bonding, and social skills.  The child is eventually diagnosed with autism.

Oxytocin Study & Autism

In Feburary 2010, a study conducted by Angela Sirigu at the Centre de Neuroscience Cognitive in Lyon, France was released.  In this study, 13 autistic children had Oxytocin administered to them in a nasal spray and then were observed in their social behavior during ball games and visual tests designed to recognize faces expressing different feelings.  Their findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicated improved ability to recognize different feelings, and in games to demonstrate more trust and reduced fear with socially cooperative individuals.

 Increasing Levels of MAO-A with Respen-A

I am not endorsing this product as I have not personally tried it, but from what I have read, it has the potential to be of benefit and there are compelling videos on the Respen-A website to attest to its benefit.   It was developed by Elaine DeLack and is available only by prescription.  It is a homeopathic patch that is intended to increase levels of MAO-A through an extremely tiny amount of Resperine.  Resperine is a synthetic drug developed from the active component of the Indian medicinal plant Rauwolfia which reduces levels of Serotonin.  Rauwolfia/ Resperine have potentially serious side-effects, including the potential to trigger symptoms of Parkinsons, and  should only be administered under the care of a medical practitioner.  The homeopathic patch is a safer way to go.