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Maternal Antibody as a Contributor to Autism Spectrum Disorder

There is growing evidence that the maternal immune response may affect development of the fetal brain and, in some instances, lead to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Dr. Diamond and colleagues have generated a panel of monoclonal anti-brain antibodies, cloned from B cells of women with brain-reactive serology and a child with ASD. They will explore the effects of these antibodies on fetal brain development in mice and subsequent brain function. They will employ histologic and behavioral assessments as well as imaging cerebral metabolism in behaving mice. Dr. Diamond and colleagues will translate their findings into a study of women with brain-reactive antibodies and a child with ASD to associate ASD-phenotype of the offspring with antigenic specificities of the mother. They will follow a cohort of pregnant women prospectively to learn how to identify an at risk pregnancies for eventual protection of such pregnancies with decoy antigen. They will also study the gene expression profile and function of microglial cells in our ASD models. It is believed that the microglia may be a particularly responsive therapeutic target.