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Reduced levels of immunoglobulin in children with autism correlates with behavioral symptoms

Posted Jul 01 2009 5:02pm
Heuer L, Ashwood P, Schauer J, Goines P, Krakowiak P, Hertz-Picciotto I, Hansen R, Croen LA, Pessah IN, Van de Water J.Autism Res. 2008 Oct;1(5):275-83.

OBJECTIVES: To assay if plasma antibody levels in children with autism or developmental delays (DD) differ from those with typical development as an indicator of immune function and to correlate antibody levels with severity of behavioral symptoms. METHODS: Plasma was collected from children with autistic disorder (AU; n=116), DD but not autism (n=32), autism spectrum disorder but not full autism (n=27), and age-matched typically developing (TD) controls (n=96). Samples were assayed for systemic levels of immunoglobulin (IgG, IgM, IgA, and IgE) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Subjects with autism were evaluated using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, and all subjects were scored on the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) by the parents. Numerical scores for each of the ABC subscales as well as the total scores were then correlated with Ig levels. RESULTS: Children with AU have a significantly reduced level of plasma IgG (5.39+/-0.29 mg/mL) compared to the TD (7.72+/-0.28 mg/mL; P <0.001) and DD children (8.23+/-0.49 mg/mL; P <0.001). Children with autism also had a reduced level of plasma IgM (0.670.06 mg/mL) compared to TD (0.79+/-0.05 mg/mL; P <0.05). Ig levels were negatively correlated with ABC scores for all children (IgG: r=-0.334, P <0.0001; IgM: r=-0.167, P=0.0285). CONCLUSION: Children with AU have significantly reduced levels of plasma IgG and IgM compared to both DD and TD controls, suggesting an underlying defect in immune function. This reduction in specific Ig levels correlates with behavioral severity, where those patients with the highest scores in the behavioral battery have the most reduced levels of IgG and IgM.

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