The glial perspective of autism spectrum disorders

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014 Jan;38:160-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.11.008. Epub 2013 Dec 1.


The aetiology of autism spectrum disorders remains unclear although a growing number of associated genetic abnormalities and environmental factors have been discovered in recent decades. These advancements coincided with a remarkable increase in the comprehension of physiological functions and pathological potential of neuroglia in the central nervous system that led to a notion of fundamental contribution of glial cells into multiple neuropathologies, including neuropsychiatric and developmental disorders. Growing evidence indicates a role for deregulation of astroglial control over homeostasis and plastic potential of neural networks as well as microglial malfunction and neuroinflammatory response in the brains of autistic patients. In this review, we shall summarize the status and pathological potential of neuroglia and argue for neuroglial roots of autistic disorders.

Keywords: Astrocyte; Autism; Environmental factors; Gene; Microglia; NG2 cells; Neurone; Oligodendrocyte.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / genetics
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Neuroglia / physiology*