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Prenatal exposure to maternal antibodies linked to autistic behaviors in offspring
Date:2/11/2008

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) New research from the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute shows that an interaction between fetal brain cells and maternal antibodies could be linked with the repetitive behavior also called stereotypies that is characteristic of autism. While additional studies are needed to confirm the outcome, this result leads investigators to suspect that brain-directed antibodies during the prenatal period could be a causal factor for the disorder. The study appears online now and will be published in a future issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

The study builds on recent research led by UC Davis immunologist Judy Van de Water (to be published in the March 2008 issue of Neurotoxicology) showing that IgG antibodies from the blood of mothers of children with autism react against fetal brain proteins. The outcome was predominant with IgG samples from mothers of children with the regressive form, rather than the early onset form, of the disorder. Her outcome raised the possibility that some cases of autism may be linked to antibody transplacental transfer during pregnancy which, in turn, affects the growing brain.

Dr. Van de Waters result implicated maternal immune system factors with at least one form of autism, said neuroscientist David Amaral, research director of the M.I.N.D. Institute and senior author of the current study. We wanted to take that important finding a step further and find out if IgG exposure during pregnancy could cause the kinds of changes in social interactions or behavior we see in children with autism.

To test this hypothesis, Amaral and his research team at the California National Primate Research Center exposed eight rhesus monkeys to human IgG at three times during the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. Four monkeys received IgG from mothers of children with autism, while four received antibody isolated from the blood of mothers of typically developing children to ensure that any potential outcome
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Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis - Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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