Systemic auto-antibodies in children with autism

J Neuroimmunol. 2014 Jul 15;272(1-2):94-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2014.04.011. Epub 2014 Apr 26.


Autoimmunity to central nervous system may have a role in the pathogenesis of autism. A subset of anti-ds-DNA antibodies has been recently proved to be pathogenic to the brain as well as to the kidney. Due to the paucity of studies investigating the frequency of systemic auto-antibodies in autism, we are the first to investigate the frequency of anti-ds-DNA antibodies in a group of autistic children. The seropositivity of anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) was also investigated. Serum anti-ds-DNA antibodies and ANA were measured in 100 autistic children, aged between 4 and 11 years, in comparison to 100 healthy-matched children. The seropositivity of anti-ds-DNA antibodies and ANA in autistic children was 34% and 25%, respectively. In addition, 42% of autistic children were seropositive for anti-ds-DNA antibodies and/or ANA. The frequencies of anti-ds-DNA antibodies and ANA in autistic children were significantly higher than that in healthy children (4% and 2%, respectively), (P<0.001 and P<0.001, respectively). Autistic children with a family history of autoimmunity (45%) had significantly higher frequency of serum anti-ds-DNA antibodies (48.9%) than patients without such a history (21.8%), P=0.008. There was a significant positive association between the seropositivity of anti-ds-DNA antibodies and ANA (P<0.001). In conclusion, anti-ds-DNA antibodies and ANA were found in the sera of a subgroup of autistic children. However, replication studies of larger samples are warranted to validate whether these antibodies are a mere association or have a pathogenic role in some autistic children.

Keywords: ANA; Anti-ds-DNA antibodies; Autoimmunity; Family history of autoimmunity; autism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / blood*
  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Autoantibodies
  • DNA