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

Regulation of inflammatory Th17 cells in autism spectrum disorder  

Some behavioral problems in children with autism have been traced back to viral infections in their mothers during pregnancy. Studies have shown that "revving up" the mother's immune system during pregnancy results in offspring with altered gene expression in the brain and problems with behavioral development, as well as immune system changes and autoimmune disorders. Dr. Littman and his colleagues suspect that the link between immune function and autism lies in a newly discovered subset of immune cells called Th17 cells which produce the inflammation-inducing signaling molecule interleukin-17. Their normal role is thought to be in fighting bacterial and fungal infections, but if this defense mechanism goes awry, Th17 cells can cause inflammatory tissue damage that eventually leads to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Littman and colleagues propose to study the contribution of these cells to autism using both mouse models and clinical samples. The researchers plan is to use experimental mice lacking Th17 cells to shed light on the cells' role in the behavioral changes linked to activation of the maternal immune system. Clinically, the researchers plan to compare levels of Th17 cells and the chemical signals they produce in blood samples from individuals with autism and healthy controls. Project Status


Funder Simons Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $150,000.00
Project Number 95476
Principal Investigator Littman, Dan
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Strategic Plan Objective Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 2SA. Support at least four research projects to identify mechanisms of metabolic and/or immune system interactions with the central nervous system that may underlie the development of ASD during prenatal-postnatal life by 2010. IACC Funding Budget: $9,800,000 over 4 years.
Federal or Private? Private
Institution New York University School of Medicine
State/Country New York
Web Link 1 Regulation of inflammatory Th17 cells in autism spectrum disorder (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects Regulation of inflammatory Th17 cells in autism spectrum disorder | $112,500.00 | 2010 | 95476