Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 87–97

Lymphocyte subsets and interleukin-2 receptors in autistic children

  • Douglas R. Denney
  • Brenda Wood Frei
  • Gary R. Gaffney


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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ganguli, R., & Rabin, B. S. (1989). Increased serum interleukin 2 receptor concentrations in schizophrenic and brain-damaged subjects.Archives of General Psychiatry, 46, 292.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Krug, D. A., Arick, J., & Almond, P. (1980). Behavior checklist for identifying severely handicapped individuals with high levels of autistic behaviors.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 21, 221–229.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Maes, M., Bosmans, E., Suy, E., Vandervorst, C., Dejonckheere, C., & Raus, J. (1991). Antiphospholipid, antinuclear, Epstein-Barr and cytomegalovirus antibodies and soluble interleukin-2 receptors in depressive patients.Journal of Affective Disorders, 21, 133–140.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Rapaport, M. H., McAllister, C. G., Pickar, D., Nelson, D. L., & Paul, S. M. (1989). Elevated levels of soluble interleukin-2 receptors in schizophrenia.Archives of General Psychiatry, 46, 291–292.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Ritvo, E. R., Yuwiler, A., Geller, E., Ornitz, E. M., Saeger, K., & Plotkin, S. (1970). Increased blood serotonin and platelets in early infantile autism.Archives of General Psychiatry, 23, 566–572.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Singh, V. K., Warren, R. P., Odell, J. D., & Cole, P. (1991). Changes of soluble interleukin-2, interleukin-2 receptor, T8 antigen, and interleukin-1 in the serum of autistic children.Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology, 61, 448–455.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Slauson, D. O., Walker, C., Kristensen, F., Wang, Y., & DeWeck, A. L. (1984). Mechanisms of serotonin-induced lymphocyte proliferation inhibition.Cellular Immunology, 84, 240–252.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Smith, K. A. (1988). Interleukin-2: Inception, impact, and implications.Science, 240, 1126–1146.Google Scholar
  9. Stubbs, E. G., Crawford, M. L., Burger, D. R., & Vandenbark, A. A. (1977). Depressed lymphocyte responsiveness in autistic children.Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 7, 49–55.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Wadden, N. P., Bryson, S. E., & Rodger, R. S. (1991). A closer look at the Autism Behavior Checklist: discriminant validity and factor structure.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 21, 529–541.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Warren, R. P., Foster, A., & Margaretten, N. C. (1987). Reduced natural killer cell activity in autism.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 26, 333–335.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Warren, R. P., Foster, A., Margaretten, N. V., & Pace, N. C. (1986). Immune abnormalities in patients with autism.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 16, 189–197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Warren, R. P., Yonk, L. J., Burger, R. A., Cole, P., Odell, J. D., Warren, W. L., White, R., & Singh, V. K. (1990). Deficiency of suppressor-inducer (CD4+D45RA+) T cells in autism.Immunological Investigations, 19, 245–251.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Wright, H. H., Abramson, R. K., Self, S., Genco, P., & Cuccaro, M. L. (1990).Serotonin may affect lymphocyte cell surface markers in autistic probands. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, San Francisco, CA. (NR abstract 12).Google Scholar
  15. Zimmerman, A. W., Frye, V. H., & Potter, N. T. (1993). Immunological aspects of autism.International Pediatrics, 8, 199–204.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas R. Denney
    • 2
  • Brenda Wood Frei
    • 2
  • Gary R. Gaffney
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Iowa College of MedicineUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KansasLawrence

Personalised recommendations