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Study Links Immune Irregularities With Autism

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Immune Irregularities And Autism

According to the latest research, the new treatment target for children with autism may be the immune system. The link between immunity and autism was made some time ago but until now researchers have not been able to prove it. Studies performed on mice by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have shown that immune system abnormalities are associated with autism spectrum disorder. The work, which will be published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was based on  epidemiological studies that have shown that maternal infection during the first trimester of pregnancy leads to behavioral disorders such as autism spectrum disorders.

Autism

To implement and to verify this fact, researchers have  infected female mice to simulate the immune response that would be triggered by a viral infection. The result was that the offspring born from infected mothers had behavioral problems  autism-like. It was found that the offspring had a different behavior than usual mice, that is they prefered to play alone rather than interacting with other mice, were communicating less.

Furthermore, researchers have analyzed the immune system of mice and found that abnormalities occurring in mice born from infected mothers during pregnancy are similar to those seen in children with autism. The change observed was decreased levels of regulatory T lymphocytes. What is even more interesting is that researchers were able to correct the autistic behavior by transplantation of bone marrow in mice. Therefore, by correcting immune system abnormalities could improve autistic behavior . But what researchers do not know yet is whether bone marrow transplant or stem cells are those that to correct autism. Although the link between autism and immune system abnormalities was found in experiments on mice, researchers say this can not yet be extrapolated to humans. However, further works on autism are  under research.

Future studies aim to link between autism and microbiota, gastrointestinal microbial flora. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairment in social development, communication and repetitive behavior. These behavioral problems of children are usually seen by parents  until the age of 3 years. It may happen that children develop normally and then  autistic behavior occur. Although autism is a disease that does not heal, there have been cases where children have been recovered. Genetic factors play  an important role in autism, but there are also other factors that have been incriminated, such as abnormal immunity, vaccines, pesticides, etc.. Lately, special attention was given to the immune system and, although further studies are necessary,  it seems this is the new target in the management of autism.