Elisabeth Manville
Apr 16, 2012

Further evidence of connection between autism and immune system differences

Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center found significantly lower levels of several cytokines in children with autism disorder (AD) compared with unrelated healthy siblings who had members in their own families with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Cytokines are cell-signaling protein molecules secreted by cells that perform as the immune system’s messengers and regulators. The study analyzed the plasma of 99 children with AD between the ages of 5 and 10 and that of 40 unrelated healthy siblings without AD who were age- and gender-matched. The research team used nanoparticle technology to examine cytokine patterns from peripheral blood. “Our study further supports a disturbed immune system in children with classic autism that may be related to genetic factors as cytokine proteins are coded by genes distributed among the human chromosomes,” Merlin G. Butler, a professor of psychiatry, said.