Title: Stereotypies and hyperactivity in rhesus monkeys exposed to IgG from mothers of children with autism
Authors: Loren A. Martin, Paul Ashwood, Daniel Braunschweig, Maricel Cabanlit, Judy Van de Water and David G. Amaral
Source: In press. Journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity

You can find a more complete description and review of this paper based on the press coverage here. Thus, I’ll limit this to a micro summary and a few related thoughts. The researchers wanted to experimentally test the hypothesis that exposure to maternal neuronal antibodies (IgG) during the PREnatal period could be one of the causes of at least some variants of Autism. To test this hypothesis the researchers exposed 4 prenatal rhesus monkeys with IgG taken from human mothers who had multiple children with ASD. They also exposed 5 prenatal monkeys with IgG taken from human mothers who did not have any children with Autism. Once the monkeys were born, these two groups were also compared to monkeys that had not been exposed to any antibodies. The researchers found that the monkeys that had been exposed to the antibodies of human mothers of children with autism engaged in much higher levels of unique whole-body stereotypic behaviors and less social contact with familiar peers, than did the monkeys exposed to IgG of mothers of typically developing kids or monkeys not exposed to any antibodies. Furthermore, these stereotypic behaviors increased when the monkeys were exposed to novel environments or peers. As I understand how controversial this paper will be for some people, I want to say that the authors are very clear and explicit in stating that this is NOT an animal model of autism. That is, they did not intent to say that they were able to “cause” autism in these monkeys via exposure to IgG. Instead, their data presents some evidence that exposure to IgG before birth leads to unique patterns of stereotypic behaviors, similar to those observed in some children with ASD. This is a very small preliminary study, but the results are fascinating in that it will guide future research to explore exposure to IgG as a potential cause (one of many) of ASD.

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3 Responses to Autism, Monkeys, and Maternal Antibodies

  1. kristina says:

    Thanks for this clear and concise summary, and especially for the last part about the study not being about an animal model of autism.

  2. CS says:

    I find any study coming out of UC Davis’ Mind Institute suspect since they are on record that there is an epidemic of autism and consistently describe us as burdens and train wrecks (see Rick Rollens who sits on the board).

  3. Anonymous says:

    What about older paternal age past 33 or so as a cause of the mutations in genes or other genetic effects?

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