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J Neuroimmunol. 2006 Apr;173(1-2):126-34. Epub 2006 Feb 21.

Immune activation of peripheral blood and mucosal CD3+ lymphocyte cytokine profiles in children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of California at Davis, M.I.N.D. Institute, Wet Lab building, 50th Street, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.


Gastrointestinal pathology, characterized by lymphoid nodular hyperplasia and entero-colitis, has been demonstrated in a cohort of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Systemic and intestinal mucosal immune dysregulation was assessed in ASD children with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (n = 18), and typically developing controls (n = 27), including non-inflamed controls (NIC) and inflamed GI control children with Crohn's disease (CD), by analysis of intracellular cytokines in CD3+ lymphocytes. In both peripheral blood and mucosa, CD3+ TNFalpha+ and CD3+ IFNgamma+ were increased in ASD children compared with NIC (p < 0.004) and reached levels similar to CD. In contrast, peripheral and mucosal CD3+ IL-10+ were markedly lower in ASD children with GI symptoms compared with both NIC and CD controls (p < 0.02). In addition, mucosal CD3+ IL-4+ cells were increased (p < 0.007) in ASD compared with NIC. There is a unique pattern of peripheral blood and mucosal CD3+ lymphocytes intracellular cytokines, which is consistent with significant immune dysregulation, in this ASD cohort.

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