Imbalance in pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines milieu in B cells of children with autism

Mol Immunol. 2022 Jan:141:297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2021.12.009. Epub 2021 Dec 13.


B cells play multiple roles in preservation of healthy immune system including management of immune responses by expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Several earlier studies have documented that B cells express both pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, TNF-α as well as anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-10. However, it is yet to be examined whether these pro-/anti-inflammatory cytokines are expressed in B cells of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Pathophysiology of ASD begins in early childhood and is characterized by repetitive/restricted behavioral patterns, and dysfunction in communal/communication skills. ASD pathophysiology also has a strong component of immune dysfunction which has been highlighted in numerous earlier publications. In this study, we specifically explored pro-/anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-17A, IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-10) in B cells of ASD subjects and compared them typically developing control (TDC) children. Present study shows that inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-α are elevated in B cells of ASD subjects, while anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10 is decreased in ASD group when compared to TDC group. Further, TLR4 activation by its ligand, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) further upregulates inflammatory potential of B cells from ASD group by increasing IL-6 expression, whereas LPS has no significant effect on IL-10 expression in ASD group. Furthermore, LPS-induced inflammatory signaling of IL-6 in B cells of ASD subjects was partially mitigated by the pretreatment with NF-kB inhibitor. Present study propounds the idea that B cells could be crucial players in causing immune dysfunction in ASD subjects through an imbalance in expression of pro-/anti-inflammatory cytokines.

Keywords: Autism; B cells; IL-10; IL-6; Lipopolysaccharide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / immunology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / immunology*
  • Autistic Disorder / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity / immunology
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Male
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Up-Regulation / immunology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines