Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

Influence of the maternal immune response on the development of autism  

Both T cells and cytokines (proteins which are produced by and regulate the behavior of immune cells) are implicated in various neurological disorders. Cytokines present in the maternal immune system can cross the placenta and enter fetal tissues, and this may affect fetal development. Preliminary results from the Ponzio laboratory have shown that one such cytokine, interleukin-2 (IL-2), may affect fetal brain development, as the offspring of pregnant mice injected with IL-2 display abnormal behaviors. In the present study, these researchers will examine the role of maternal cytokines and immune cells as an environmental trigger for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Cytokines will be administered to pregnant mice by injection, and the effects on fetal brain development will be examined by behavioral testing of offspring for features selectively found in autism. IL-2 may act directly on the developing brain, or it may stimulate other components of the mother's immune system which in turn affects brain development. To determine which subsets of maternal immune cells and cytokines are stimulated by IL-2 treatment, the maternal immune system will be characterized by molecular and cell immunological techniques. Correlating the activations of the immune system during pregnancy and the development of autistic-like characteristics in offspring will have clinical relevance for understanding the underlying causes of autism. Project Status
ONGOING

2009

Funder Autism Speaks
Fiscal Year Funding $127,499.15
Project Number 2545
Principal Investigator Ponzio, Nicholas
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 3: What Caused This To Happen And Can This Be Prevented? (Risk Factors)
Strategic Plan Objective New! Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 3SE. Support at least two studies to determine if there are subpopulations that are more susceptible to environmental exposures (e.g., immune challenges related to infections, vaccinations, or underlying autoimmune problems) by 2012. IACC Recommended Budget: $8,000,000 over 2 years.
Federal or Private? Private
Institution University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey
State/Country New Jersey
Web Link 1 Influence of the maternal immune response on the development of autism (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
New! History/Related Projects Influence of the maternal immune response on the development of autism | $127,499.00 | 2010 | 2545
Influence of the maternal immune response on the development of autism | $150,000.00 | 2008 | 2545