A new study says rats given the Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine had male pups with autistic characteristics.Four researchers at three different universities in Turkey contributed to the study, published January 10 in Neurochemical Research.The study found significant differences between rats born to mothers vaccinated during pregnancy versus a control group of rats born to unvaccinated mothers in significant areas. Males showed differences in coordination and balance, social behaviour, the quantities of Purkinje cells and other neural cells and exhibited brain tissue abnormalities."These male-specific outcomes, including autism-like behaviors, reduced neuronal counts and impaired motor performance, emphasize the potential neurodevelopmental implications of the vaccine, aligning with existing literature on the roles of the WNT pathway and BDNF signaling in neurodevelopmental disorder."The researchers found postnatal rats of both sexes showed differences in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein levels and in m-TOR & WNT gene expression levels.Some definitions required for the average reader to understand the findings are included in the paper.BDNF is a protein that “plays an important role in neuronal survival and growth, serves as a neurotransmitter modulator and participates in neuronal plasticity, which is essential for learning and memory," the researchers explained. As for Purkinje cells, they “have a vital role in motor movement and coordination, spatial memory and learning, and even certain cognitive behavior.”The M-TOR gene encodes for the m-TOR protein, which “coordinates eukaryotic cell growth and metabolism with environmental inputs including nutrients and growth factors.”Similarly, the WNT gene encodes for the WNT protein, which are “secreted, lipid-modified glycoproteins that allow for communication between cells. They regulate cell growth, function, differentiation and cell death. WNT proteins play a central role in bone development, modeling, and remodeling.”The researchers said the vaccine "significantly alters WNT gene expression and BDNF levels in both male and female rats, suggesting a profound impact on key neurodevelopmental pathways."Notably, male rats exhibited pronounced autism-like behaviors, characterized by a marked reduction in social interaction and repetitive patterns of behavior."Furthermore, there was a substantial decrease in neuronal counts in critical brain regions, indicating potential neurodegeneration or altered neurodevelopment."Male rats also demonstrated impaired motor performance, evidenced by reduced coordination and agility.”In what was called a Rotarod test, researchers found that the vaccinated male rats performed significantly worse. They were unable to maintain their balance on the wheel as long as unvaccinated male rats and the vaccinated female rats."Motor performance was significantly affected in a sex-dependent manner in the vaccinated group," the researchers noted.The researchers said a long-term study on people was needed and their preliminary on rats raised questions."In our study, vaccinated groups showed no detectable inflammation markers, leading to speculations. One possibility is the timing of vaccination during pregnancy, implying the inflammatory effects might have waned by the 50th day. Prior research ... aligns with our observations, hinting that pregnancy-related vaccination inflammation might be short-lived," the paper stated.Another possibility was that the vaccine prompted neuronal apoptosis, or cell death by suicide, without any significant inflammation."Environmental factors, including prenatal stress, maternal immune activation, and chemical exposures, can interact with genetic and hormonal elements, leading to gender-specific susceptibilities in neurodevelopmental disorders. These environmental influences might differently impact males and females due to their interaction with genetic determinants, causing varying results," the authors explained."However, drawing conclusions from animal models has its limitations, and human studies are essential to confirm these findings. Long-term studies on the effects of COVID-19 vaccination on neurodevelopment, especially considering potential gender differences, are needed."