, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 87-97

Lymphocyte subsets and interleukin-2 receptors in autistic children

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Blood samples were obtained from 10 male autistic children ages 7–15 years and 10 age-matched, male, healthy controls. Lymphocyte subsets (helper-inducer, suppressor-cytotoxic, total T, and total B cells) were enumerated using monoclonal antibodies and flow cytometry. Bound and soluble interleukin-2 receptors were assayed in unstimulated blood samples and in cell cultures following 72-hour stimulation with phytohemagglutinin. The children with autism had a lower percentage of helper-inducer cells and a lower helpersuppressor ratio, with both measures inversely related to the severity of autistic symptoms (r=−.56 and −.68, respectively). A lower percentage of lymphocytes expressing bound interleukin-2 receptors following mitogenic stimulation was also noted, and this too was inversely related to the seventy of autistic symptoms.

This work was supported in part by a Kansas University General Research Award and by the Department of Psychiatry Foundation.