New immune-related autism reports from IMFAR

asdresearchinitiative points out on his/her blog 5 abstracts from the current International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), run by the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR). The abstracts are all from UC Davis/MIND Institute. One puzzling finding in the Schwartzer report is that pups born to immune-activated mothers vocalize more than controls. This is the opposite of our own published report on ultrasonic vocalizations in MIA offspring. We’ll have to wait until Schwartzer et al. publish in order to see what the cause of the difference might be.

Another interesting finding (from Careaga et al.) is an imbalance in the type of cytokines produced by stimulated immune cells from Fragile X syndrome patients compared to controls. FXS is the leading cause of inheritable intellectual disability in male children. These kids also display several autism features. Thus, this genetic disorder with ASD features shares an immune dysregulation with spontaneous ASD.

Nordahl et al. report that of 112 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 9% are born to mothers that produce anti-brain antibodies (auto-immune antibodies). None of the 40 mothers of typically developing children produced such antibodies. As found by others, brain size is 5% larger in the young children in ASD than in controls, but the kids born to moms with anti-brain antibodies have even larger (12%) brains than controls. Moreover, in a monkey model of this risk factor, offspring of mothers given anti-brain antibodies (from positive mothers of ASD kids) during pregnancy give rise to offspring with enlarged brains. The hope is that the non-human primate model will be useful in examining the cause of the enlargement and how it may contribute to the abnormal behaviors seen in this model.

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