A New York Times opinion column on 25 August suggested that at least some cases of autism could be considered inflammatory disorders. But this theory is still in its infancy.
An altered immune system can cause autism-like behaviors, suggests a study published 31 July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers found that a bone marrow transplant, which restores the animals’ immune system, alleviates their anxiety and repetitive behavior.
Pregnant rats exposed to a virus give birth to offspring with significantly altered levels of three proteins important for brain development, according to a study published 9 June in Molecular Brain.
Offspring born to pregnant rats with an activated immune system emit more distress calls when they receive electrical shocks than do controls, according to a study published 9 June in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
An untreated fever during pregnancy more than doubles the risk that the child will develop autism, according to a study published 5 May in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Two new postmortem studies show that microglia, which protect the brain from invaders, are denser and more concentrated around neurons in the brains of individuals with autism than in those of controls.
Immune cells called microglia may play a central role in trimming synapses, the connections between neurons, according to research published 24 May in Neuron. These modifications are part of a normal developmental process by which excess synapses in the brain are destroyed.