Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 189-197

First online:

Immune abnormalities in patients with autism

  • Reed P. WarrenAffiliated withUtah State University
  • , Nadine C. MargarettenAffiliated withUtah State University
  • , Nancy C. PaceAffiliated withUtah State University
  • , Ann FosterAffiliated withPrimary Children's Medical Center

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We have begun an investigation on the immune systems of patients with autism in attempt to determine if immune mechanisms are involved in the development of this severe developmental disorder. A study of 31 autistic patients has revealed several immune-system abnormalities, including reduced responsiveness in the lymphocyte blastogenesis assay to phytohemagglutinin, concanavalin A, and pokeweed mitogen; decreased numbers of T lymphocytes; and an altered ratio of helper to suppressor T cells. Immune-system abnormalities may be directly related to underlying biologic processes of autism, or these changes may be an indirect reflection of the actual pathologic mechanism.