We have reported lymphocytic colitis in children with regressive autism, with epithelial damage prominent. We now compare duodenal biopsies in 25 children with regressive autism to 11 with coeliac disease, five with cerebral palsy and mental retardation and 18 histologically normal controls. Immunohistochemistry was performed for lymphocyte and epithelial lineage and functional markers. We determined the density of intraepithelial and lamina propria lymphocyte populations, and studied mucosal immunoglobulin and complement C1q localisation. Standard histopathology showed increased enterocyte and Paneth cell numbers in the autistic children. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated increased lymphocyte infiltration in both epithelium and lamina propria with upregulated crypt cell proliferation, compared to normal and cerebral palsy controls. Intraepithelial lymphocytes and lamina propria plasma cells were lower than in coeliac disease, but lamina propria T cell populations were higher and crypt proliferation similar. Most strikingly, IgG deposition was seen on the basolateral epithelial surface in 23/25 autistic children, co-localising with complement C1q. This was not seen in the other conditions. These findings demonstrate a novel form of enteropathy in autistic children, in which increases in mucosal lymphocyte density and crypt cell proliferation occur with epithelial IgG deposition. The features are suggestive of an autoimmune lesion.
- Small intestine
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience