Detection of Plasma Autoantibodies to Brain Tissue in Young Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders

25 Mar

Researchers at the MIND Institute published studies in the past few years correlating antibodies to brain tissue and autism. The first study of this sort (that I recall) studied whether the mother had antibodies to fetal brain tissue: Autism: maternally derived antibodies specific for fetal brain proteins. Other studies have looked at autoantibodies within the plasma of the autistics themselves: Detection of autoantibodies to neural cells of the cerebellum in the plasma of subjects with autism spectrum disorders.

The idea is fairly simple. If the mother or the autistic has antibodies against brain tissue, this might lead to an increased risk of autism.

There are even patent applications in for use of these methods to For example, a 2011 patent application US20110038872A1: METHODS OF DIAGNOSING AND TREATING AUTISM:

Determining a risk of an offspring for developing an autism spectrum disorder comprises identifying in a biological sample from the mother of the offspring in the presence of maternal antibodies that bind to the biomarkers

This past week, another paper from the MIND group came out:

Detection of Plasma Autoantibodies to Brain Tissue in Young Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders

In this study they looked for autoantibodies and compared autistics and non-autistics. They found no differences between the groups in frequency of autoantibodies.

Abstract
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by impaired language and social skills, often with restricted interests and stereotyped behaviors. A previous investigation of blood plasma from children with ASDs (mean age = 5½ years) demonstrated that 21% of samples contained autoantibodies that reacted intensely with GABAergic Golgi neurons of the cerebellum while no samples from non-sibling, typically developing children showed similar staining (Wills et al., 2009). In order to characterize the clinical features of children positive for these autoantibodies, we analyzed plasma samples from children enrolled in the Autism Phenome Project, a multidisciplinary project aimed at identifying subtypes of ASD. Plasma from male and female children (mean age = 3.2 years) was analyzed immunohistochemically for the presence of autoantibodies using histological sections of macaque monkey brain. Immunoreactivity to cerebellar Golgi neurons and other presumed interneurons was observed for some samples but there was no difference in the rate of occurrence of these autoantibodies between children with ASD and their typically developing peers. Staining of neurons, punctate profiles in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus, and neuronal nuclei were also observed. Taken together, 42% of controls and subjects with ASD demonstrated immunoreactivity to some neural element. Interestingly, children whose plasma reacted to brain tissue had scores on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) that indicated increased behavioral and emotional problems. Children whose plasma was immunoreactive with neuronal cell bodies scored higher on multiple CBCL scales. These studies indicate that additional research into the genesis and prevalence of brain-directed autoantibodies is warranted.

” Immunoreactivity to cerebellar Golgi neurons and other presumed interneurons was observed for some samples but there was no difference in the rate of occurrence of these autoantibodies between children with ASD and their typically developing peers.”

4 Responses to “Detection of Plasma Autoantibodies to Brain Tissue in Young Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders”

  1. Chris Carter March 26, 2011 at 21:22 #

    Several autoantibodies, as well as antibodies to gluten and casein have been reported in autism as well as in schizophrenia. Some of these are referenced at http://www.polygenicpathways.co.uk/autismrisk.htm along with other reported environmental risk factors in autism.

  2. Tsu Dho Nimh March 27, 2011 at 16:32 #

    Auto-antibodies against brain proteins were the “hot discovery’ in schizophrenia when I was in college, mumbledy-many years ago.

    And it fizzled. Haven’t heard much about it since then.

  3. Chris Carter March 27, 2011 at 19:38 #

    It may have fizzled, but not burnt out. The autoantigens in schizophrenia are homologous to many of the proteins expressed by the multiple viruses and pathogens implicated as risk factors in schizophrenia.This suggests that the autoantibodies are derived from antibodies raised to these pathogens which then go on to target their human homologues. Many of the targets of the antibodies, for example dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and NMDA receptors are very relevant to schizophrenia.
    http://www.sage-hindawi.com/journals/jpath/aip/128318/

  4. daedalus2u March 27, 2011 at 20:17 #

    Chris, that is very interesting. There are bacterial antigens that cause autoimmune sensitization too, in particular strep causes what is known as PANDAS.

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