American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Detection of IL-17 and IL-23 in Plasma Samples of Children with Autism

Amanda Enstrom, Charity Onore, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Robin Hansen, Lisa Croen, Judy Van De Water and Paul Ashwood

DOI : 10.3844/ajbbsp.2008.114.120

American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Volume 4, Issue 2

Pages 114-120


Interleukin-23 (IL-23) is a survival factor for a newly described population of T lymphocytes, namely Th-17 cells, that secrete IL-17, tumor necrosis factor- alpha (TNFα) and IL-6. It has been shown that Th-17 cells are a pathogenic T cell subset involved in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. Based on the increasing evidence of immune dysfunction in autism, including possible autoimmune and inflammatory processes, we hypothesized that Th-17 cells, a T cell lineage that has not been previously examined in this disorder, may be altered in autism. To assess the potential role, if any, of Th-17 cells in autism, we analyzed plasma samples obtained from children ranging in age from 2-5 years with a diagnosis of autism and age-matched typically developing controls for the presence of IL-17 and IL-23 cytokines. Plasma samples from 40 children with autism including 20 children with a regressive form of autism, 20 with early onset and no regression and 20 typically developing age-matched control children were analyzed for IL-17 and IL-23, under the hypothesis that altered number and function of Th-17 cells would directly correlate with altered levels of IL-17 and IL-23 in the plasma. In this study, we were able to demonstrate that IL-23 cytokine levels were significantly different in children with autism compared with age-matched controls, a finding primarily driven by children with early onset autism. In contrast, there were no statistical differences in IL-17 levels autism compared with age-matched typically developing controls. This is the first study to report altered IL-23 production in autism. The decreased plasma IL-23 production observed in children with autism warrants further research as to its affect on the generation and survival of Th-17 cells, a subset important in neuroinflammatory conditions that may include autism.


© 2008 Amanda Enstrom, Charity Onore, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Robin Hansen, Lisa Croen, Judy Van De Water and Paul Ashwood. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.