Genetic and immunologic considerations in autism

Neurobiol Dis. 2002 Mar;9(2):107-25. doi: 10.1006/nbdi.2002.0479.


According to recent epidemiological surveys, autistic spectrum disorders have become recognized as common childhood psychopathologies. These life-lasting conditions demonstrate a strong genetic determinant consistent with a polygenic mode of inheritance for which several autism susceptibility regions have been identified. Parallel evidence of immune abnormalities in autistic patients argues for an implication of the immune system in pathogenesis. This review summarizes advances in the molecular genetics of autism, as well as recently emerging concerns addressing the disease incidence and triggering factors. The neurochemical and immunologic findings are analyzed in the context of a neuroimmune hypothesis for autism. Studies of disorders with established neuroimmune nature indicate multiple pathways of the pathogenesis; herein, we discuss evidence of similar phenomena in autism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / genetics*
  • Autistic Disorder / immunology*
  • Autistic Disorder / virology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Neuroimmunomodulation