Inflammation and neuromodulation in autism

Defining an immune-mediated subgroup

Dysregulation of the immune system has been implicated in autism and potentially represents an immune-mediated autism subgroup. Mediators of the immune system have been implicated in the production of inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines, that could affect neurogenesis and neural homeostasis. Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) is a protein known to regulate neurogenesis, neuronal migration, survival, and neuroplasticity. A mechanism by which inflammation may impact brain function could involve BDNF modulation as the expression of BDNF within the brain is adversely impacted by inflammation. 

The aim of this project is to use biological samples and participant data from the Australian Autism Biobank to develop an understanding of the biological and immunological mechanisms underpinning autism with a view of identifying immune-mediated subgroups. Associations between these markers and autism phenotype, and the underlying mechanisms will be investigated. It is hoped that these subgroups will be predictive of differential developmental trajectories and outcomes, an understanding of which will guide targeted intervention and support. 

Early Years
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Project Leader(s)
  • Alicia Montgomery, University of New South Wales
Project status