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

Etiology of sleep disorders in ASD: Role of inflammatory cytokines  

Although sleep problems are not a diagnostic determinant for autism, children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) experience high rates of sleep disorders that typically include night-time hyper-vigilances (night-time arousals). There have been relatively few reports that address the underlying cause for these disruptions. Alterations in sleep have been linked with cognitive and behavioral deficits as well as stress and anxiety. The initiation of the stress axis may feed back and exacerbate the sleep dysregulation, which may further worsen the behavioral deficits. A consequence of increased anxiety is a dysregulation of cytokines, which are cellular signaling molecules. Long-term exposure to high levels of cytokines can disrupt sleep patterns. Elevated cytokine levels have been reported in children with ASD. To date, the current animal models of ASD have not been utilized to investigate the underlying causes of sleep disturbances. This proposal will test the prediction that increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines are present in an animal model of ASD and these cytokines underlie the dysregulation of sleep patterns. Prenatal exposure to valproic acid (VPA) is an accepted rodent model of ASD as it parallels both neuroanatomical and functional (i.e., behavioral) pathologies associated with ASD. First, we will determine if changes in sleep architecture correlate with altered cytokine levels in the VPA model. If so, we will test whether blockade of aberrant cytokine action alters sleep patterns and attenuates adverse behavioral consequences associated with ASD in the VPA animal model. Identifying and understanding the sleep disorders that are potentially compounding autistic behaviors may have a favorable outcome on treatment. Project Status


Funder Department of Defense
Fiscal Year Funding $0.00
Current Award Period 2009-2011
Project Number AR080087
Principal Investigator Mong, Jessica
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Co-occurring Conditions
Strategic Plan Objective Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 2SE. Launch three studies that target the underlying biological mechanisms of co-occurring conditions with autism, including seizures/epilepsy, sleep disorders, wandering/elopement behavior, and familial autoimmune disorders, by 2012. IACC Recommended Budget: $9,000,000 over 5 years.
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution University of Maryland, Baltimore
State/Country Maryland
Web Link 1 Etiology of sleep disorders in ASD: Role of inflammatory cytokines (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
New! History/Related Projects Etiology of sleep disorders in ASD: Role of inflammatory cytokines | $0.00 | 2009 | AR080087
Etiology of sleep disorders in ASD: Role of inflammatory cytokines | $112,500.00 | 2008 | AR080087