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Maternal Antibody Binding to Lymphocytes of Offspring with Autism
Sponsored by the Hussman Foundation.
We hypothesize that maternal antibodies may bind to the lymphocytes of the mothers' autistic children. This may be important in studying potential biological mechanisms for the etiology of autism. If these maternal antibodies were present at the time of conception and during pregnancy, it is possible that they could have affected prenatal brain development by affecting cell function. The appearance of maternal antibodies reactive to fetal lymphocytes and brain tissue in autism may be due to a disruption in mechanisms that usually suppress the mother's immune response to the fetus. Disrupted immune mechanisms might also be related to altered neuronal function in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. In addition, maternal antibodies may contribute directly to abnormal brain development in autism by binding to neurotransmitter or cytokine receptors in the developing brain during pregnancy.