Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by core domains: persistent deficits in social communication and interaction; restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. ASDs comprise heterogeneous and complex neurodevelopmental pathologies with well-defined inflammatory conditions and immune system dysfunction. Due to neurobiologic changes underlying ASD development, cell-based therapies have been proposed and applied to ASDs. Indeed, stem cells show specific immunologic properties, which make them promising candidates in ASD treatment. This comprehensive up-to-date review focuses on ASD cellular/molecular abnormalities, potentially useful stem cell types, animal models, and current clinical trials on the use of stem cells in treating autism. Limitations are also discussed.
Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; cell therapy; immune dysfunction; stem cell.