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The Systems Biology of Autism: Autoimmunity, Micro-Biomic Influence, and the Developing Brain

The purpose of this meeting was to address questions arising from experiments with maternal inflammation activation (MIA) mouse models in which bacterial or viral mimics administered to pregnant dams result in autistic-like features in the offspring (with significantly different outcomes in males and females). Recently, Gloria Choi and Jun R. Huh published results showing that TH17 helper cells are produced only when particular bacterial species are present in the gut microbiome.

Furthermore, specific somatosensory cortical regions with projections to the striatum are implicated, suggesting ways of thinking about the possible role of abnormal proprioception in autism. Many questions remain, such as what role does autoimmunity have in altering the course of neurodevelopment? Or, what types of metabolic treatments could reverse the effects of these perturbations? These observations exemplify the growing realization that the heterogeneity and genetic complexity of autism will involve multi-systemic interactions.

Immune Cells in the Autism Brain
Matthew P. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Faculty, Program in Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School
and Children’s Hospital Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC)
Director of Neuropathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Consultant in Neuropathology, Boston Children’s Hospital
Director (Boston Node) and Clinical Neuropathologist, Autism BrainNET

Elucidating Neural Circuits Underlying Autism-like Behaviors using Maternal Immune Activation Model
Gloria Choi, Ph.D.
Investigator, McGovern Institute
Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Professor
Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Modulating Anti-Caspr2 Antibody Mediated ASD
Betty Diamond, M.D.
Professor & Head
Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Diseases
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Professor of Molecular Medicine and Medicine
Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine

Expression Variations among Human Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) Class I Allotypes
Malini Raghavan, Ph.D.
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
University of Michigan Medical School

Gut Feelings: Engineering Synthetic Bacterial Circuits to Probe the Mammalian Gut
David Riglar, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Systems Biology
Harvard Medical School


The Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation, Wellesley, MA