Frequent clinical observations of rapid but transient functional improvements in autism during fever and illness suggest that immune factors may affect cortical connectivity. Changes with illness frequently precede the appearance of fever and may persist for several days after fever subsides. No relationship to type of infection, degree of fever or treatment has been found. Additional reports suggest that this phenomenon occurs in some adults as well as children with autism, and in response to pain or external heating.
Objectives: Discuss the basic physiology of fever and possible mechanisms that may explain these findings in autism, including changes in cytokines, chemokines and their receptors, as well as heat shock proteins, cell membrane and synaptic functions.
Methods: Review of study of behavioral changes during fever in children with autism (Curran LK et al, Pediatrics, 2007).Methods: Review of study of behavioral changes during fever in children with autism (Curran LK et al, Pediatrics, 2007).
Results: Improvements in behavior, language, and social relatedness have been observed to various degrees during fever in a majority of these children.
Conclusions: Responses to fever may provide new insights into underlying immune and synaptic mechanisms in autism.