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Neurotherapeutics. 2010 Jul;7(3):293-301. doi: 10.1016/j.nurt.2010.05.008.

Immune therapy in autism: historical experience and future directions with immunomodulatory therapy.

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  • 1Pediatric Neurology and Autism Neurodevelopmental Program, Sutter Neuroscience Institute, Sacramento, California 95816, USA.


Autism affects 1 in 110 new births, and it has no single etiology with uniform agreement. This has a significant impact on the quality of life for individuals who have been diagnosed with autism. Although autism has a spectrum quality with a shared diagnosis, it presents a uniquely different clinical appearance in each individual. Recent research of suspected immunological factors have provided more support for a probable immunological process or for processes that may play a role in the acquisition of an autistic condition. These factors include prenatal, genetic, and postnatal findings, as well as the discovery of a dysfunctional chronic pro-inflammatory state in brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid in subsets of autistic patients. These findings offer new theories that may lead to the development of disease modification or preventative therapeutic options in the near future. This article reviews prenatal, genetic, and observed immune aspects of the autism condition that may be risk factors in the presentation of the autistic clinical phenotype. Historical immune interventions in autism are reviewed and potential new therapies and interventions are discussed.

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