Differential T cell levels of tumor necrosis factor receptor-II in children with autism

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2 Scopus citations


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by impairments in verbal and non-verbal communication, in social interactions, and often accompanied by stereotypical interests and behaviors. A role for immune dysfunction has long been implicated in ASD pathophysiology, behavioral severity, and co-morbidities. The pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) has been associated with ASD in some studies but little is known about its receptors. There are two receptors for TNFα, with TNFRI relaying many of the signals from TNFα, especially those that are rapid, whilst TNFRII relays later more long-term effects of TNFα. Proteolytic cleavage can lead to the soluble versions of these receptors which can neutralize the effects of TNFα. Here, we determined levels of TNFα and its receptors in 36 children with a confirmed diagnosis of ASD and 27 confirmed typically developing (TD) controls, 2-5 years-of-age. Children with ASD had higher levels of TNFRII on T cells compared to controls following cell stimulation. Levels of sTNFRII were decreased in cell supernatants following stimulation in ASD. Overall these data corroborate the role of inflammatory events in ASD and align with previous studies that have shown differential changes in cellular adaptive immunity in children with ASD. Future longitudinal analyzes of cellular immune function and downstream signaling from immune receptors will help further delineate the role of inflammation in ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number543
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Behavior
  • Cytokine receptors
  • Lymphocyte
  • T cells
  • TNF-tumor necrosis factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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