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Immunobiology. 2011 Jan-Feb;216(1-2):80-5. doi: 10.1016/j.imbio.2010.03.001. Epub 2010 Mar 12.

Expression of inflammatory cytokines, Bcl2 and cathepsin D are altered in lymphoblasts of autistic subjects.

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Department of Neurochemistry, NY State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, 1050 Forest Hill Road, Staten Island, New York, NY 10314, USA.


To determine whether inflammation and apoptosis are involved in the pathogenesis of autism, we examined cytokines, Bcl2 expression and cathepsin D protease activity in the lymphoblasts of autistic subjects and age-matched controls. We found increased expression levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-6, but decreased Bcl2 expression in lymphoblasts of autistic subjects. We also found that cathepsin D mRNA and protein expression were significantly increased in autistic lymphoblasts.


Our findings suggest that inflammation and apoptosis may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of autism, and cathepsin D may participate in the regulation of cytokine-induced inflammation and apoptosis in autistic lymphoblasts.

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