Cell Danger Response

The Cell Danger Response (CDR) is an ancient metabolic response to threat, according to Dr. Naviaux who published his 2014 landmark paper “Metabolic features of the cell danger response”.  The cell danger response occurs when cells are damaged by “chemical, physical, or biological threats”.  The features of the cell danger response are geared towards conserving resources with the goal of protecting cells from harm.  In the short term, the CDR serves to protect but long term.  Once the “threat” is nullified, the CDR turns off and the cells take steps to reverse the effects of the CDR resulting in healing.  Chronic CDR has the ability to disrupt the function of every cell in the body.  This will have a direct impact on the gut and microbiome, mitochondrial function, neurotransmission and detoxification capacity.  All key features of the medical aspects of autism.

One key feature of the CDR that is particularly impactful in autism is the stiffening of the cell membrane.  Membrane fluidity is essential for optimal development.  Biomedical treatment improves many of the harmful aspects of long term CDR.  The treatments used to address membrane rigidity consistently result in improvements in language, social and cognitive function while reducing behaviours.   These include diet, fat soluble vitamins, phospholipids, carnitine, essential fatty acids and methylation supports like methyl B12 and methyl folate.

Methylation produces the building blocks of the cell membrane.  Harmful microbes, like clostridia, disrupt the absorption of nutrients needed to support methylation and detoxification.  The core feature of CDR is that a “threat” triggers it.  Threats like heavy metals, chemicals and microbes.  Improving methylation, mitochondrial function, glutathione production and the health of the microbiome reduces the impact of “threats” on cells by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.  Eliminating the threat, turns off the CDR and supporting the repair of cells and tissues with more resources via diet, water and fat soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids, phospholipids and antioxidants speeds the repair phase.

Dr. Naviaux is continuing to study the CDR in the hopes to confirm that this is the mechanism by which children and adults diagnosed with autism develop delays in language, social and cognitive development.