Rett syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders--brain diseases of immune malfunction?

Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 229081, USA.
Molecular Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.5). 02/2010; 15(4):355-63. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2010.21
Source: PubMed


Neuroimmunology was once referred to in terms of its pathological connotation only and was generally understood as covering the deleterious involvement of the immune system in various diseases and disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). However, our conception of the function of the immune system in the structure, function, and plasticity of the CNS has undergone a sea change after relevant discoveries over the past two decades, and continues to be challenged by more recent studies of neurodevelopment and cognition. This review summarizes the recent advances in understanding of immune-system participation in the development and functioning of the CNS under physiological conditions. Considering as an example Rett syndrome a devastating neurodevelopmental disease, we offer a hypothesis that might help to explain the part played by immune cells in its etiology, and hence suggests that the immune system might be a feasible therapeutic target for alleviation of some of the symptoms of this and other autism spectrum disorders.

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    • "Disease models using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) from RTT patients’ fibroblasts have opened up a new avenue of drug discovery for therapeutic treatment of RTT (Kim et al., 2011; Marchetto et al., 2011). Recent data also suggests that immune system, whether it is adaptive (T cells) or innate (microglia), profoundly impact normal brain function and plasticity (Derecki et al., 2010; Graeber and Streit, 2010; Tremblay et al., 2011). Therefore, bone marrow transplant from healthy animals into mutant Mecp2 male animals is being investigated as an approach for amelioration of RTT symptoms (Derecki et al., 2012). "
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