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Immunogenetic studies in autism and related disorders

  • Part IV Immune Mechanisms in Neurodegenerative and Neuropsychiatric Disorders
  • Published:
Molecular and chemical neuropathology


The major histocompatibility complex comprises a number of genes that control the function and regulation of the immune system. One of these genes, the C4B gene, encodes a product that is involved in eliminating pathogens such as viruses and bacteria from the body. We previously reported that a deficient form of the C4B gene, termed the C4B null allele (no C4B protein produced) had an increased frequency in autism. In this study we attempted to confirm the increased incidence of the C4B null allele in autism and investigated the presence of a C4B null allele in two other childhood disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia (reading disability). In addition, we explored the relationship of autism to the DRβ1 gene, a gene located close to the C4B in autism. We confirmed the finding of an increased frequency of the C4B null allele in autism and found that the related disorders also had an increased frequency of this null allele. In addition, two alleles of the DRβ1 gene also had significantly increased representation in the autistic subjects.

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Warren, R.P., Singh, V.K., Averett, R.E. et al. Immunogenetic studies in autism and related disorders. Molecular and Chemical Neuropathology 28, 77–81 (1996).

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