Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a highly heterogeneous disorder diagnosed based on the presence and severity of core abnormalities in social communication and repetitive behavior, yet several studies converge on immune dysregulation as a feature of ASD. Widespread alterations in immune molecules and responses are seen in the brains and periphery of ASD individuals, and early life immune disruptions are associated with ASD. This chapter discusses immune-related environmental and genetic risk factors for ASD, emphasizing population-wide studies and animal research that reveal potential mechanistic pathways involved in the development of ASD-related symptoms. It further reviews immunologic pathologies seen in ASD individuals and how such abnormalities can impact neurodevelopment and behavior. Finally, it evaluates emerging evidence for an immune contribution to the pathogenesis of ASD and a potential role for immunomodulatory effects in current treatments for ASD.
Keywords: Autoantibody; Cytokine; Immunity; Maternal infection; Microglia; Neurodevelopment.
© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.