Objectives: The current study has two main objectives. The first objective is to perform transcriptional profiling of a panel of cytokine and chemokine genes in different regions of post-mortem brain tissues of autistic subjects and controls. The second objective is to perform translational profiling of a panel of cytokine and chemokine genes in the blood plasma of autistic subjects.
Methods: Post-mortem brain tissue samples were provided by the Autism Tissue Program. After RNA extraction, transcriptional profiling was performed by reverse transcription - real time PCR in 5 cortical regions: BA 4, 9, 17, 22 and 46. Blood plasma samples were provided by the Kosair Children’s Hospital Pediatric Clinical Research Unit. Protein expression analysis was performed using LUMINEX technology.
Results: Preliminary transcriptional analysis revealed that cytokine (TNFα, IL-6, TGFβ1, IL-1β), and chemokine (IL-8) transcripts were increased in all brain regions (especially BA 46, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) except BA 22 (superior temporal gyrus/Wernicke’s area) in autism as compared with controls. Preliminary plasma analysis revealed an altered expression of cytokine and chemokine regulation systemically in autistic patients when compared to literature values for controls.
Conclusions: This study reveals an up-regulation of cytokine and chemokine expression in autism in various cortical regions and an altered expression of these proteins systemically. The current data suggest a heterogeneous regulation of cytokine gene transcription in the cerebral cortex of autistic patients, where different brain regions show a differential cytokine transcription profile. Additionally, this data suggests an atypical expression of cytokines in blood plasma of autistic individuals.
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