, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 189-197

Immune abnormalities in patients with autism

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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.

The authors gratefully recognize W. Louise Warren, R.N., for assisting with the blood drawings in these studies, and the Utah Society for Autistic Children and Adults for help in obtaining the cooperation of the patients. This work was supported by the Stallone Fund for Autism Research.