Immune mediators in the brain and peripheral tissues in autism spectrum disorder

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Aug;16(8):469-86. doi: 10.1038/nrn3978.


Increasing evidence points to a central role for immune dysregulation in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Several ASD risk genes encode components of the immune system and many maternal immune system-related risk factors--including autoimmunity, infection and fetal reactive antibodies--are associated with ASD. In addition, there is evidence of ongoing immune dysregulation in individuals with ASD and in animal models of this disorder. Recently, several molecular signalling pathways--including pathways downstream of cytokines, the receptor MET, major histocompatibility complex class I molecules, microglia and complement factors--have been identified that link immune activation to ASD phenotypes. Together, these findings indicate that the immune system is a point of convergence for multiple ASD-related genetic and environmental risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors