Is autism an autoimmune disease?

Autoimmun Rev. 2004 Nov;3(7-8):557-62. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2004.07.036.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a spectrum of behavioral anomalies characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, often accompanied by repetitive and stereotyped behavior. The condition manifests within the first 3 years of life and persists into adulthood. There are numerous hypotheses regarding the etiology and pathology of ASD, including a suggested role for immune dysfunction. However, to date, the evidence for involvement of the immune system in autism has been inconclusive. While immune system abnormalities have been reported in children with autistic disorder, there is little consensus regarding the nature of these differences which include both enhanced autoimmunity and reduced immune function. In this review, we discuss current findings with respect to immune function and the spectrum of autoimmune phenomena described in children with ASD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / immunology*
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System / immunology
  • Humans
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / immunology*
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism


  • Xenobiotics