The Immune System, Cytokines, and Biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Neurosci Bull. 2017 Apr;33(2):194-204. doi: 10.1007/s12264-017-0103-8. Epub 2017 Feb 25.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive neurodevelopmental condition characterized by variable impairments in communication and social interaction as well as restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. Heterogeneity of presentation is a hallmark. Investigations of immune system problems in ASD, including aberrations in cytokine profiles and signaling, have been increasing in recent times and are the subject of ongoing interest. With the aim of establishing whether cytokines have utility as potential biomarkers that may define a subgroup of ASD, or function as an objective measure of response to treatment, this review summarizes the role of the immune system, discusses the relationship between the immune system, the brain, and behavior, and presents previously-identified immune system abnormalities in ASD, specifically addressing the role of cytokines in these aberrations. The roles and identification of biomarkers are also addressed, particularly with respect to cytokine profiles in ASD.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder; Cytokine; Immune system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / immunology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / metabolism
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / pathology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiopathology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines