Neuroinflammation in the Pathogenesis of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Converging Evidence for Systemic and Central Nervous System Immune Interaction
Authors: Meghan C. Mott, Rafael Fernandez-Botran and Manuel F. Casanova
Abstract: Multiple studies indicate that immune system dysfunction is prevalent in many children and adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although the central nervous system has been considered an immunologically privileged site for many years, current data shows that it is also capable of exhibiting hallmarks of inflammation. In addition to systemic findings, recent research suggests that an inflammatory scenario is present in the central nervous system of individuals with ASD. Studies of the post-mortem brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid of individuals with autism demonstrate that neuroglial activation and proinflammatory cytokine profiles contribute to an active neuroinflammatory process. While these findings suggest that neuroimmune processes may play a role the pathogenesis of ASD, they do not take into account the agonal conditions associated with the majority of patients studied. Neurodevelopmental trajectories are mediated by the immune system both pre- and postnatally. Immune injuries that occur during critical periods of development could result in chronic neuroinflammation and the neuropathological abnormalities that typify this disorder. This review presents the most recent research regarding neuroinflammation in ASD, and the implications this has for its pathogenesis and treatment.