Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Autism's origins: Mother's antibody production may affect fetal brain

27.02.2008
The mothers of some autistic children may have made antibodies against their fetuses’ brain tissue during pregnancy that crossed the placenta and caused changes that led to autism, suggests research led by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center investigators and published in the February issue of the Journal of Neuroimmunology.

The causes of autism, a disorder manifesting itself with a range of brain problems and marked by impaired social interactions, communication disorders and repetitive behaviors, remain unknown for an estimated 90 percent of children diagnosed with it. Genetic, metabolic and environmental factors have been implicated in various studies of autism, a disorder affecting 1 in 150 U.S. children, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Now our research suggests that the mother’s immune system may be yet another factor or a trigger in those already predisposed,” says lead investigator Harvey Singer, M.D., director of pediatric neurology at Hopkins Children’s.

Researchers caution that the findings needn’t be cause for alarm, but should be viewed instead as a step forward in untangling the complex nature of autism.

Mostly anecdotal past evidence of immune system involvement has emerged from unusual antibody levels in some autistic children and from postmortem brain tissue studies showing immune abnormalities in areas of the brain. Antibodies are proteins the body makes in response to viruses and bacteria or sometimes mistakenly against its own tissues. Yet, the majority of children with autism have no clinical evidence of autoimmune diseases, which prompted researchers to wonder whether the antibodies transferred from mother to child during pregnancy could interfere with the fetal brain directly.

To test their hypothesis, the research team used a technique called immunoblotting (or Western blot technology), in which antibodies derived from blood samples are exposed to adult and fetal brain tissue to check whether the antibodies recognize and react against specific brain proteins.

Comparing the antibody-brain interaction in samples obtained from 100 mothers of autistic children and 100 mothers of children without autism, researchers found either stronger reactivity or more areas of reactivity between antibodies and brain proteins in about 40 percent of the samples obtained from the mothers of autistic children. Further, the presence of maternal antibodies was associated with so-called developmental regression in children, increasingly immature behaviors that are a hallmark of autism.

While the findings suggest an association between autism and the presence of fetal brain antibodies, the investigators say further studies are needed to confirm that particular antibodies do indeed cross the placenta and cause damage to the fetal brain.

“The mere fact that a pregnant woman has antibodies against the fetal brain doesn’t mean she will have an autistic child,” Singer says. “Autism is a complex condition and one that is likely caused by the interplay of immune, genetic and environmental factors.”

Researchers are also studying the effect of maternal antibodies in pregnant mice. Preliminary results show that the offspring of mice injected with brain antibodies exhibit developmental and social behaviors consistent with autism.

Ekaterina Pesheva | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>