Infection-Autism Link Explained?

A mouse study suggests a mechanism by which severe infections during pregnancy increase autism risk. 

By | January 31, 2016

FLICKR, ANGELADELLATORREAn immune effector molecule called interleukin 17 (IL-17), produced as part of a mother’s inflammatory reaction to a pathogen, can interfere with her baby’s brain development, according to a mouse study published this week (January 28) in Science. Blocking IL-17 production in pregnant mice prevented the development of autism-like behaviors in their offspring. The results suggest a possible explanation for the fact that women in Denmark who were hospitalized due to an infection during their pregnancy were more likely to have a child with autism.

“In the mice, we could treat the mother with antibodies that block IL-17 after inflammation had set in, and that could ameliorate some of the behavioral symptoms that were observed in the offspring,” coauthor Gloria Choi, an assistant professor at MIT, said in a press release.

Choi’s former Caltech advisor, Paul Patterson, had previously discovered a link between the immune signaling molecule IL-6 and autism-like behavior in rodents. To figure out why, Choi and her colleagues disabled Th17 cells, which are activated by IL-6, in pregnant mice, then triggered an inflammatory response. Lo and behold, the animals’ offspring showed no behavioral abnormalities. The researchers could also eliminate the autism-like behaviors in the mice’s offspring when they treated the mothers with an antibody that blocks IL-17.

“Our data suggest that therapeutic targeting of TH17 cells in susceptible pregnant mothers may reduce the likelihood of bearing children with inflammation-induced ASD [autism spectrum disorder]-like phenotypes,” the authors wrote in their paper.

Advertisement

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Popular Now

  1. NYU Halts Studies, Suspends Investigator
    The Nutshell NYU Halts Studies, Suspends Investigator

    Experiments conducted at the New York University School of Medicine violated several research standards, according to US Food and Drug Administration investigators.

  2. Exercise-Induced Muscle Factor Promotes Memory
  3. The Meaning of Pupil Dilation
    Daily News The Meaning of Pupil Dilation

    Scientists are using pupil measurements to study a wide range of psychological processes and to get a glimpse into the mind.

  4. Brexit’s Effects on Science