Autism & Immunology

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Internet Resources

Most of the autism-spectrum immune-panels I've perused contain either (a) signs of an immune irregularity, and/or (b) atypical elevations of at least one and *usually several* anti-viral antibodies titres.
Teresa Binstock
Many autistic children have major allergies or intolerances to many chemicals and foods. The main offenders appear to be wheat, cow's milk, and salicylates.
Michael Goldberg
Autism is a movement disorder at the cellular level, involving the immunomodulation of pigment metabolism. Two of the most consistently observed biological findings in autism are increased serotonin levels in the blood and immunological abnormalities.
Sandra Desorgher, Max Desorgher
Autism is generally considered to be a multi-factorial disorder. Causally speaking, immune factors, neurochemical factors, genetic susceptibility factors, and environmental factors such as viral infections have been implicated. I view autism as a very complex disorder, in which autoimmunity plays a central role. In my presentation, I will describe the role of autoimmune pathogenesis and immune therapy for autism. I have studied autism as an autoimmune disorder, in which neuro-autoimmune factors may lead to central nervous system (CNS) pathology. The essence of my hypothesis* (see below) is that the virus-induced autoimmunity to developing brain myelin may impair the anatomical development of neural pathways in children. This is mainly because there is a strong evidence to suggest that the speed of neural transmission depends essentially on structural properties of the insulating myelin sheath, connecting nerve fibers and axon diameter.
Vijendra Singh
A new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, M.I.N.D. Institute and the NIEHS Center for Children's Environmental Health demonstrate that children with autism have different immune system responses than children who do not have the disorder. This is important evidence that autism, currently defined primarily by distinct behaviors, may potentially be defined by distinct biologic changes as well.
U.C. Davis MIND Institute
Autism and Tourette syndrome are complex enigmatic disorders. Both are childhood neurological syndromes affecting behavior, social interaction, movement, and language. Like many complex disorders, autism and Tourette syndrome are thought to have complex genetic and environmental etiologies. Similarly, autoimmune and inflammatory (AI) disorders have complex multigenic and environmental origins. Genetic loci for AI disorders have previously been shown to cluster non-randomly in several regions throughout the human genome, suggesting in some cases, shared genetic etiologies. Here, we show that genetic loci for autism and Tourette syndrome tend to cluster with each other and also tend to cluster with previously defined loci for inflammatory disorders. This suggests a genetic relationship between autism and Tourette syndrome, as well as a genetic relationship of both with disorders of immune dysregulaton.
Kevin G. Becker et al
Our results revealed that there are findings limited to GI(+) ASD PBMCs in both the unrestricted and elimination diet groups. Thus our findings indicate intrinsic defects of innate immune responses in GI(+) ASD children but not in NFH or GI(-) ASD children, suggesting a possible link between GI and behavioral symptoms mediated by innate immune abnormalities.
H. Jyounuchi et al
Immune deficits have been theorized to play a causative role in autism with several reports supporting an association. Yet, in three intervention studies, enhancing the immune system with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) did not have any effect on the disease. In the present study, Dr. Bruce D. Mazer, from Montreal Children's Hospital, and colleagues analyzed immunologic data from 24 autistic children who were referred to an immunology clinic between January 1, 1996 and September 30, 1998.
Reuters, Medscape
For each specific child, the thorough immune panel may enhance the parents' and physician's understanding of etiologically significant factors for that specific child.
Teresa Binstock
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are part of a broad spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders known as pervasive developmental disorders, which occur in childhood. They are characterized by impairments in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and the presence of restricted and repetitive stereotyped behaviors. At the present time, the etiology of ASD is largely unknown, but genetic, environmental, immunological, and neurological factors are thought to play a role in the development of ASD. Recently, increasing research has focused on the connections between the immune system and the nervous system, including its possible role in the development of ASD. These neuroimmune interactions begin early during embryogenesis and persist throughout an individual's lifetime, with successful neurodevelopment contingent upon a normal balanced immune response. Immune aberrations consistent with a dysregulated immune response, which so far, have been reported in autistic children, include abnormal or skewed T helper cell type 1 (TH1)/TH2 cytokine profiles, decreased lymphocyte numbers, decreased T cell mitogen response, and the imbalance of serum immunoglobulin levels. In addition, autism has been linked with autoimmunity and an association with immune-based genes including human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1 and complement C4 alleles described. There is potential that such aberrant immune activity during vulnerable and critical periods of neurodevelopment could participate in the generation of neurological dysfunction characteristic of ASD. This review will examine the status of the research linking the immune response with ASD.
Paul Ashwood et al
Children with subsequent diagnoses of autism do not have more overall infections in the first 2 years of life than children without autism. Data suggest that children with autism may have modestly elevated rates of infection in the first 30 days and that, during the first 2 years, children with autism may be at higher risk for certain types of infections and lower risk for others. Additional studies that explore the associations between prenatal and early childhood infections and autism may help clarify the role of infection and the immune system in the etiology of autism spectrum disorder.
Nila Rosen et al, Pediatrics
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a spectrum of behavioral anomalies characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, often accompanied by repetitive and stereotyped behavior. The condition manifests within the first 3 years of life and persists into adulthood. There are numerous hypotheses regarding the etiology and pathology of ASD, including a suggested role for immune dysfunction. However, to date, the evidence for involvement of the immune system in autism has been inconclusive. While immune system abnormalities have been reported in children with autistic disorder, there is little consensus regarding the nature of these differences which include both enhanced autoimmunity and reduced immune function. In this review, we discuss current findings with respect to immune function and the spectrum of autoimmune phenomena described in children with ASD.
Paul Ashwood, Judy van de Water
Findings suggest that maternal autoimmune disorders present in women around the time of pregnancy are unlikely to contribute significantly to autism risk. Further etiologic investigations are needed to confirm these results and should include objective documentation of diagnoses and consider a larger set of maternal immune-related conditions, including asthma and allergies.
L.A. Croen et al
Recently, a father on an autism-mercury themed Internet group asked if any others on the list had used NAET. One parent responded that NAET had allowed her child to eat foods that the child had been unable to eat before NAET treatments. That was how Autism Diva came across NAET's version of autism causation, "allergy related autism." It appears that NAET (Nambudripads's Allergy Elimination Technique) is supposed to cure autism, not merely to treat the allergies of patients who happen to be autistic. Click here to see a graph showing something related to autism and allergies and the ability of a child to speak. Devi Namburdripad is a chiropractor, registered nurse and PhD who has invented the treatment promoted by Nambudripad's Allergy Research Foundation (NARF). According to a recent post to the quackwatch listserv a television station in California (KCAL) did a piece on NAET which showed Namburdripad's desk with a name plate showing her name followed by an "M.D." Namburdripad is in no way an M.D.
Autism Diva
This paper proposes that the developmental processes of Edelman's Neural Darwinism fit together in a very coherent way with the present increasing understanding of the importance of the affective dimension in neuroscience. A synthesis of these two features, with the evolutionarily determined primary affective systems together with the immune system providing the value system required by Neural Darwinism, provides an integrative viewpoint relating psychological issues at the macro level to neurobiological processes structuring neuronal connections at the micro level. We look at the various implications of such an integrative viewpoint relating genetically determined affective systems to higher cortical functions, considering successively developmental and functional issues, primary and secondary emotions, psychological issues, evolutionary issues, language, genetic issues, neurological issues, and potential outcomes of the proposal. We suggest that the "wet-wiring" nature of neurotransmitter mediated synaptic connections may be related to this integration. We then consider the implications of molecularly based links between the brain and the immune system, showing this too might play a significant role in the processes of neural Darwinism. Indeed this could possibly relate to the evolutionary origin of affective systems .
George Ellis, Judith A Toronchuk
NIDS is dedicated to increasing the public's awareness of the likely connection between neuro-immune and/or auto-immune dysfunction and conditions such as Autism, ADD, Alzheimer's, ALS, CFS/CFIDS, MS and other immune- mediated diseases.
Headache during or after intravenous immune globulin infusion is a common side effect of this increasingly frequent treatment. Headache usually occurs with initial infusions, particularly when they are administered at fast rates, but may recur even with slower subsequent infusions. Frequently, these headaches are palliated with acetaminophen and diphenhydramine. Aseptic meningitis has been associated with recurrent intravenous-immune globulin-associated headaches. We report on a patient in whom migraine developed after his first intravenous immune globulin treatment. Migraine recurred after the second treatment, and propranolol prevented subsequent treatment-associated headaches.
New England Journal of Medicine
A regressive type of autism described in the April issue of Molecular Psychiatry may have an autoimmune basis, either directly or indirectly from an autoimmune enteropathy. "We report findings of a novel form of enteropathy in children with autism, characterized by lymphocytic infiltration, increased crypt cell proliferation and enterocyte numbers, with co-localization of IgG and complement C1q on the enterocyte basolateral membrane," write F. Torrente, from Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, United Kingdom, and colleagues.
The association of autism with autoimmune disease reinforces the need for further investigation into the range of clinical manifestations in ALPS, as well as the links between autoimmunity, language regression, and autistic behavior.
Shalini Shenoy, Susan Arnold, Talal Chatila
Autism is generally considered to be a neuropsychiatric disorder. Yet it also seems to involve some immune system abnormalities... The abnormalities concern both B cells (which make antibodies) and cytokines (proteins that respond to viruses, bacteria, and other antigens; engage in cross-talk between immune cells and neurons; and affect mood and behavior). The results come from David Amaral, Ph.D., Judy Van de Water, Ph.D., and co-workers. Amaral, a neuroscientist who specializes in the study of the autistic brain, is research director of the University of California at Davis M.I.N.D. Institute. Van de Water is an immunologist at the M.I.N.D. Institute.
Joan Arehart-Treichel, Psychiatric News
Initial findings clearly demonstrate differences in the immune system, as well as proteins and other metabolites in children with autism: The antibody producing B cells are increased by 20 percent in the autism group; Natural killer cells are increased by 40 percent; More than 100 proteins demonstrated significant differential expression between the autism and typically developing groups; Other small molecules (metabolites) also show many differences.
U.C. David MIND Institute
The autumn 2004 session of the American College for Advancement in Medicine's 162nd International Educational Conference on Complementary, Alternative and Integrative Medicine (CAIM) took place November 1721, 2004 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina in San Diego, California, USA. This event served as testament to the overwhelming professional interest in CAIM therapies and the science supporting evidence-based CAIM therapies. Embraced by Southern California's warm sunny skies and temperate gentle breezes, over 500 physicians, health practitioners and medical professionals convened at ACAM's 'A Blast to the Future -- Emerging Concepts in Immunology' conference, in order to learn about the latest science behind a wide variety of exciting new CAIM therapies.
Meeting Report

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