Plasma increase of interleukin-12 and interferon-gamma. Pathological significance in autism

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      Immune factors such as autoimmunity have been implicated in the genesis of autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder. Since autoimmune response involves immune activation, the plasma levels of interferon-alpha (IFN-α), interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), interleukin-12 (IL-12), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) were measured in autistic patients and age-matched normal controls. The levels of IL-12 and IFN-γ were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) higher in patients as compared to controls. However, IFN-α, IL-6, TNF-α, and sICAM-1 levels did not significantly differ between the two groups. Because macrophage-derived IL-12 is known to selectively induce IFN-γ in T helper type-1 (Th-1) cells, it is suggested that IL-12 and IFN-γ increases may indicate antigenic stimulation of Th-1 cells pathogenetically linked to autoimmunity in autism.


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