Increased Monocyte Production of IL-6 after Toll-like Receptor Activation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Is Associated with Repetitive and Restricted Behaviors

Heather K. Hughes, Charity E. Onore, Milo Careaga, Sally J. Rogers, Paul Ashwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has starkly increased, instigating research into risk factors for ASD. This research has identified immune risk factors for ASD, along with evidence of immune dysfunction and excess inflammation frequently experienced by autistic individuals. Increased innate inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-6, are seen repeatedly in ASD; however, the origin of excess IL-6 in ASD has not been identified. Here we explore specific responses of circulating monocytes from autistic children. We isolated CD14+ monocytes from whole blood and stimulated them for 24 h under three conditions: media alone, lipoteichoic acid to activate TLR2, and lipopolysaccharide to activate TLR4. We then measured secreted cytokine concentrations in cellular supernatant using a human multiplex bead immunoassay. We found that after TLR4 activation, CD14+ monocytes from autistic children produce increased IL-6 compared to monocytes from children with typical development. IL-6 concentration also correlated with worsening restrictive and repetitive behaviors. These findings suggest dysfunctional activation of myeloid cells, and may indicate that other cells of this lineage, including macrophages, and microglia in the brain, might have a similar dysfunction. Further research on myeloid cells in ASD is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number220
JournalBrain Sciences
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • ASD
  • Autism
  • IL-6
  • Immune
  • Inflammation
  • Monocyte
  • Restricted
  • Toll-like receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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