Immune activation of peripheral blood and mucosal CD3+ lymphocyte cytokine profiles in children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms

J Neuroimmunol. 2006 Apr;173(1-2):126-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2005.12.007. Epub 2006 Feb 21.


Gastrointestinal pathology, characterized by lymphoid nodular hyperplasia and entero-colitis, has been demonstrated in a cohort of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Systemic and intestinal mucosal immune dysregulation was assessed in ASD children with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (n = 18), and typically developing controls (n = 27), including non-inflamed controls (NIC) and inflamed GI control children with Crohn's disease (CD), by analysis of intracellular cytokines in CD3+ lymphocytes. In both peripheral blood and mucosa, CD3+ TNFalpha+ and CD3+ IFNgamma+ were increased in ASD children compared with NIC (p < 0.004) and reached levels similar to CD. In contrast, peripheral and mucosal CD3+ IL-10+ were markedly lower in ASD children with GI symptoms compared with both NIC and CD controls (p < 0.02). In addition, mucosal CD3+ IL-4+ cells were increased (p < 0.007) in ASD compared with NIC. There is a unique pattern of peripheral blood and mucosal CD3+ lymphocytes intracellular cytokines, which is consistent with significant immune dysregulation, in this ASD cohort.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / complications
  • Autistic Disorder / immunology*
  • CD3 Complex / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • CD3 Complex
  • Cytokines