Research Article

The maternal interleukin-17a pathway in mice promotes autism-like phenotypes in offspring

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Science  26 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6276, pp. 933-939
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad0314

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A T cell cause for autism?

The causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are complex and not entirely clear. Alterations in the mother's immune system during pregnancy, especially during key early periods of fetal neurodevelopment, may play a role. Choi et al. provided infectious or inflammatory stimuli to pregnant mice, which resulted in of spring exhibiting behaviors reminiscent of ASD (see the Perspective by Estes and McAllister). A subset of T helper cells that make the cytokine interleukin-17a in the mothers caused cortical defects and associated ASD behaviors in offspring. Therapeutic targeting of interleukin-17a during gestation reduced ASD symptoms in offspring.

Science, this issue p. 933; see also p. 919