Elevated serum levels of interleukin-17A in children with autism

J Neuroinflammation. 2012 Jul 2;9:158. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-9-158.

Abstract

Background: The T-helper (Th)1/Th2 dichotomy dominated the field of immune regulation until interleukin (IL)-17-expressing T cells (Th17) were proposed to be a third lineage of helper T cells, the key players in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disorders. Autoimmunity to brain tissue may play a pathogenic role in autism. IL-17A is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that has been shown to play an important role in various autoimmune neuroinflammatory diseases. The aim of this study was to measure serum levels of IL-17A in relation to the degree of the severity of autism.

Methods: Serum IL-17A levels were measured by ELISA in 45 children with autism and 40 matched healthy controls.

Results: Children with autism had significantly higher serum IL-17A levels than healthy controls (P <0.001), with increased serum levels of IL-17A found in 48.9% of the autism group. Patients with severe autism had significantly higher serum IL-17A levels than those with mild to moderate autism (P=0.01), and raised serum IL-17A levels were significantly more common in children with severe autism (67.9%) than in those with mild to moderate autism (17.6%), P=0.001.

Conclusions: Serum IL-17A levels were raised in the group with autism, and the levels correlated significantly with the severity of autism. This is the first study to measure levels of IL-17A in relation to the severity of autism, to our knowledge. Further research, with a larger subject population, is warranted to determine whether the increase of serum IL-17A levels plasma has a pathogenic role in autism, and whether anti- IL-17A therapy could be useful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / blood
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / etiology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-17 / blood*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Serum / metabolism*

Substances

  • Biomarkers
  • IL17A protein, human
  • Interleukin-17