Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by deficits in social interactions, communication, and increased stereotypical repetitive behaviors. The immune system plays an important role in neurodevelopment, regulating neuronal proliferation, synapse formation and plasticity, as well as removing apoptotic neurons. Immune dysfunction in ASD has been repeatedly described by many research groups across the globe. Symptoms of immune dysfunction in ASD include neuroinflammation, presence of autoantibodies, increased T cell responses, and enhanced innate NK cell and monocyte immune responses. Moreover these responses are frequently associated with more impairment in core ASD features including impaired social interactions, repetitive behaviors and communication. In mouse models replacing immune components in animals that exhibit autistic relevant features leads to improvement in behavior in these animals. Taken together this research suggests that the immune dysfunction often seen in ASD directly affects aspects of neurodevelopment and neurological processes leading to changes in behavior. Discussion of immune abnormalities in ASD will be the focus of this review.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorders; Behavior; Cytokines; Immune; Innate immunity; Monocytes.
Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.