International Meeting for Autism Research: Childhood Behavioral Correlates of Maternal Antibodies In Autism

Childhood Behavioral Correlates of Maternal Antibodies In Autism

Thursday, May 12, 2011: 11:45 AM
Douglas Pavilion A (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
10:30 AM
D. Braunschweig1, I. N. Pessah2 and J. Van de Water3, (1)University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, (2)University of California at Davis, M.I.N.D. Institute, Davis, CA, United States, (3)University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
Background: We recently identified fetal-brain reactive IgG antibodies in a subset of mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Specifically, simultaneous maternal antibody reactivity to 37kDa and 73kDa fetal brain proteins was observed exclusively among mothers of children with ASD, and reactivity to a 39kDa and 73kDa were observed significantly more often in ASD. 

Objectives: This study sought to identify associations between specific childhood autistic behaviors and the presence of fetal-brain reactive antibodies in mothers of children with autism. 

Methods: Behavioral data from 204 children with autism was collected using the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL), the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS), the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Autism Behavioral Checklist (ABC) instruments. Scores for these instruments were compared between individuals with autism whose mothers have fetal-brain reactive antibodies and those who do not.

Results: Children with ASD whose mothers have circulating IgG antibodies which recognize fetal brain proteins at 37kDa and 73kDa displayed significant impairment in the use of expressive language compared with ASD children whose mothers did not show such reactivity (p < 0.0001). Additionally, ASD children of mothers possessing the 39kDa and 73kDa bands exhibited increased irritability (p = 0.0473).

Conclusions: The constellation of behaviors noted in ASD likely stem from multiple causes. Approximately 13% of mothers of children with autism have IgG antibodies that recognize fetal brain proteins, while such antibody reactivity is not observed among mothers of typically developing children. Comparison of behavioral test results between children with autism whose mothers have these antibodies versus those who do not yield significant differences in language usage and irritability. These findings support the hypothesis that some cases of autism, or specific behaviors observed in some cases of autism, may be related to neurodevelopmental perturbations induced by fetal brain-reactive maternal antibodies.

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