Maternal autoantibodies in autism

Arch Neurol. 2012 Jun;69(6):693-9. doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2011.2506.


As epidemiologic studies continue to note a striking increase in rates of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis around the world, the lack of identified causative agents in most cases remains a major hindrance to the development of treatment and prevention strategies. Published observations of immune system abnormalities in ASD have increased recently, with several groups identifying fetal protein reactive IgG antibodies in plasma from mothers of children with autism. Furthermore, other gestational immune parameters, including maternal infection and dysregulated cytokine signaling, have been found to be associated with ASD in some cases. While detailed pathogenic mechanisms remain to be determined, the hypothesis that some cases of ASD may be influenced, or even caused, by maternal fetal brain-reactive antibodies or other in utero immune-related exposures is an active area of investigation. This article reviews the current literature in this area and proposes several directions for future research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder* / etiology
  • Autistic Disorder* / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Female
  • Fetal Proteins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / immunology*
  • Pregnancy


  • Autoantibodies
  • Fetal Proteins