Toward an immune-mediated subtype of autism spectrum disorder

Brain Res. 2015 Aug 18;1617:72-92. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.09.048. Epub 2014 Nov 13.


A role for immunological involvement in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has long been hypothesized. This review includes four sections describing (1) evidence for a relationship between familial autoimmune disorders and ASD; (2) results from post-mortem and neuroimaging studies that investigated aspects of neuroinflammation in ASD; (3) findings from animal model work in ASD involving inflammatory processes; and (4) outcomes from trials of anti-inflammatory/immune-modulating drugs in ASD that have appeared in the literature. Following each section, ideas are provided for future research, suggesting paths forward in the continuing effort to define the role of immune factors and inflammation in the pathophysiology of a subtype of ASD. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI: Neuroimmunology in Health And Disease.

Keywords: Animal models; Autism spectrum disorder; Autoimmune disorders; Immunology; Neuroimaging; Pathophysiology; Post-mortem; Psychopharmacology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / drug therapy
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / etiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / genetics
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics
  • Brain / immunology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Encephalitis / complications
  • Encephalitis / immunology
  • Encephalitis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Interferon Inducers / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Interferon Inducers