AUTISM AND ANTIBODIES
ANCHOR LEAD: PROTEINS PRODUCED BY THE MOM MAY HAVE A ROLE IN AUTISM, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Specialized proteins called antibodies have been shown to be present in the mother’s circulation in some children who develop autism. Harvey Singer and colleagues at Johns Hopkins have exposed pregnant mice to these antibodies and then studied their offspring.
SINGER: There were differences in fact and so what the differences showed in the adolescent group the mice tended to be a little bit more active. The adults were more anxious and also there was alteration in sociability. :17
Singer says the antibodies appear to be directed against fetal brain tissue.
SINGER: The essential thing and one of the studies we’re working on is what brain protein is the antibody acting against? :09
The big question is how is the mother being exposed to fetal brain tissue, but Singer says cross-reactivity with another closely related protein may be the answer. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.