Toward an Inflammation-Related Subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Speaker: Christopher J. McDougle, M.D.
Affiliation: Director, Lurie Center for Autism; Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, MGH and MassGeneral Hospital for Children; Nancy Lurie Marks Professor in the Field of Autism, Harvard Medical School.

Date: February 8, 2017

Talk title: Toward an Inflammation-Related Subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract: The etiology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is largely unknown.  A prominent challenge to the field’s efforts to identify the causes of ASD has been the inability to identify meaningful subtypes due to the significant clinical and likely biological heterogeneity that exists.  Since the publication of Leo Kanner’s seminal description of children with ASD in 1943, there has been accumulating evidence that inflammation may play a role in the pathophysiology of a subtype of individuals with ASD.  Data in support of this purported subtype has come from descriptive studies, family and other studies demonstrating an increased prevalence of autoimmune disorders in first- and second-degree relatives of probands with ASD, neuroimaging and post-mortem investigation, animal models and preliminary findings from trials of anti-inflammatory drugs.  This presentation will review some of this literature and present findings from some of our pilot research, including results from preclinical animal model work and neuroimaging of adult subjects with ASD.