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

Immunopathogenesis in autism: Regulatory T cells and autoimmunity in neurodevelopment  

Groups of patients with autism or autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are at risk for developing autoimmune diseases, which are diseases where the immune system attacks cells in its own body. Exposure to environmental contaminants during pregnancy is thought to contribute to autism/ASDs and autoimmune diseases. This suggests a link between environmental contaminants, the immune system, and autism/ASDs. Contaminants that affect cells known as regulatory T cells (Tregs) are likely candidates. Tregs prevent autoimmune diseases by controlling the immune cells, known as autoreactive T cells, from damaging organs in an autoimmune reaction. Contaminants such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perflurooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which impact the immune system, may also affect Tregs. Autism or ASDs may occur when developmental exposure to PFOA or PFOS affects Tregs, leading to disrupted control of autoreactive T cells that can damage the brain. Pregnant mice will be exposed to PFOA or PFOS. In their offspring, the following will be evaluated: numbers of Tregs; the ability of Tregs to secrete chemicals that control autoreactive T cells; levels of antibodies produced by autoreactive T cells that indicate increased risk of autoimmune disease; and changes in brains that may result from actions of autoreactive T cells. If alterations in Treg number and/or function from developmental exposure to PFOA or PFOS lead to brain damage from autoreactive T cells, then subsets of autism or ASD cases may result from altered Treg responses that lead to brain damage from autoreactive T cells. Project Status
ONGOING

2010

Funder Department of Defense
Fiscal Year Funding $0.00
Current Award Period 2010-2011
Project Number AR093526
Principal Investigator DeWitt, Jamie
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 3: What Caused This To Happen And Can This Be Prevented? (Causes)
Subcategory Environment
Strategic Plan Objective Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 3SF. Initiate studies on at least 10 environmental factors identified in the recommendations from the 2007 IOM report "Autism and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for Research" as potential causes of ASD by 2012. Estimated cost $56,000,000 over 2 years.
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution East Carolina University
State/Country North Carolina
Web Link 1 Immunopathogenesis in autism: Regulatory T cells and autoimmunity in neurodevelopment (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
New! History/Related Projects Immunopathogenesis in autism: Regulatory T cells and autoimmunity in neurodevelopment | $106,609.00 | 2009 | AR093526