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Neuroinflammation and Autism

On March 13, 2014, the NLM Foundation sponsored a Boston Club meeting titled, ‘Neuroinflammation and Autism.’ The discussion focused on aberrant immune responses and neuroinflammation in the etiology and pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders. The putative relationship of immune abnormalities to autism has long been a subject of discussion amongst investigators. Once regarded as a mere curiosity, the evidence that the immune system plays a role in the etiology of autism has been increasing, particularly over the past several years. Investigators have detected brain reactive antibodies in the mothers of children with autism and elevated anti-nuclear antibodies have been detected in both children with autism and their mothers. In a Finish cohort, increasing maternal CRP levels were significantly associated with autism in offspring. For maternal CRP levels in the highest quintile, compared with the lowest quintile, there was a significant, 43% elevated risk.  It has also been suggested that that children of women with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and SLE have an elevated risk for autism and that autism is associated with immune related genes in the HLA region. Abnormal cytokine profiles in autistic patients have been reported by many investigators.

Matthew P. Anderson, MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

William Carlezon, PhD
Harvard Medical School
McLean Hospital

Sophia Colamarino, PhD
John and Marcia Goldman Foundation
Stanford University School of Medicine

Philip De Jager, MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Antibodies, Behavior, and Cognition: The new ABC
Betty Diamond, MD
Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Peter Gregersen, MD
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Hofstra North Shore- LIJ School of Medicine

The Innate Immune Response to Pathogens: Genes, Networks, and Variations
Nir Hacohen, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Jacob Hooker, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Massachusetts General Hospital

Tsuneya Ikezu, MD, PhD
Boston University School of Medicine

Robert E. Landreth
Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Production

Christopher McDougle, MD
Lurie Center for Autism
Massachusetts General Hospital

Liliya Silayeva, PhD
Tufts University School of Medicine

Stress and Brain Inflammation Contribute to Autism Pathogenesis that can be Reversed by Luteolin
Theoharis Theoharides, MD, Ph.D.
Tufts University School of Medicine- Tufts Medical Center

Maternal Autoantibody Related Autism Spectrum Disorder
Judy Van de Water, Ph.D.
UC Davis School of Medicine
MIND Institute

Andrew W. Zimmerman, MD
UMass Memorial Medical Center


The Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation, Wellesley, MA