Detection of plasma autoantibodies to brain tissue in young children with and without autism spectrum disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by impaired language and social skills, often with restricted interests and stereotyped behaviors. A previous investigation of blood plasma from children with ASDs (mean age=51/2 years) demonstrated that 21% of samples contained autoantibodies that reacted intensely with GABAergic Golgi neurons of the cerebellum while no samples from non-sibling, typically developing children showed similar staining (Wills et al., 2009). In order to characterize the clinical features of children positive for these autoantibodies, we analyzed plasma samples from children enrolled in the Autism Phenome Project, a multidisciplinary project aimed at identifying subtypes of ASD. Plasma from male and female children (mean age=3.2. years) was analyzed immunohistochemically for the presence of autoantibodies using histological sections of macaque monkey brain. Immunoreactivity to cerebellar Golgi neurons and other presumed interneurons was observed for some samples but there was no difference in the rate of occurrence of these autoantibodies between children with ASD and their typically developing peers. Staining of neurons, punctate profiles in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus, and neuronal nuclei were also observed. Taken together, 42% of controls and subjects with ASD demonstrated immunoreactivity to some neural element. Interestingly, children whose plasma reacted to brain tissue had scores on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) that indicated increased behavioral and emotional problems. Children whose plasma was immunoreactive with neuronal cell bodies scored higher on multiple CBCL scales. These studies indicate that additional research into the genesis and prevalence of brain-directed autoantibodies is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1135
Number of pages13
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Volume25
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Autoantibody
  • Child behavior checklist
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interneurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems

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