Novel roles for immune molecules in neural development: Implications for neurodevelopmental disorders

Paula A. Garay, A Kimberley Usrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Although the brain has classically been considered "immune-privileged" , current research suggests an extensive communication between the immune and nervous systems in both health and disease. Recent studies demonstrate that immune molecules are present at the right place and time to modulate the development and function of the healthy and diseased central nervous system (CNS). Indeed, immune molecules play integral roles in the CNS throughout neural development, including affecting neurogenesis, neuronal migration, axon guidance, synapse formation, activity-dependent refinement of circuits, and synaptic plasticity. Moreover, the roles of individual immune molecules in the nervous system may change over development. This review focuses on the effects of immune molecules on neuronal connections in the mammalian central nervous system - specifically the roles for MHCI and its receptors, complement, and cytokines on the function, refinement, and plasticity of geniculate, cortical and hippocampal synapses, and their relationship to neurodevelopmental disorders. These functions for immune molecules during neural development suggest that they could also mediate pathological responses to chronic elevations of cytokines in neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 136
JournalFrontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience
Issue numberSEP
StatePublished - 2010


  • Autism
  • Complement
  • Cytokine
  • Major histocompatibility complex
  • Plasticity
  • Refinement
  • Schizophrenia
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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