Autism pp 289-307 | Cite as

Maternal Immune Activation, Cytokines and Autism

  • Paul H. Patterson
  • Wensi Xu
  • Stephen E.P. Smith
  • Benjamin E. Devarman
Part of the Current Clinical Neurology book series (CCNEU)


Normal pregnancy involves an elevated inflammatory state, both systemically in the mother and in the placenta. However, further increases in inflammation, as with maternal infection, can enhance the risk of autism and schizophrenia in the offspring. Animal studies show that maternal immune activation (MIA) increases inflammatory cytokines in the fetal environment, as well as in the fetal brain. Since the adult autistic brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) exhibit high levels of inflammatory cytokines, we hypothesize that MIA sets in motion a self-perpetuating cycle of subacute inflammation in the brain that not only affects neural development, but also acutely influences ongoing postnatal behavior. Experiments aimed at testing the effects of preventing or interrupting this inflammatory cycle are possible with available animal models.


IL-6 TNF IL-10 influenza schizophrenia maternal infection preterm birth LPS poly(I:C) 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press, a part of Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul H. Patterson
    • 1
  • Wensi Xu
  • Stephen E.P. Smith
  • Benjamin E. Devarman
  1. 1.Biology DivisionCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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