Thursday, December 6, 2007

Autism: Autoimmunity to hsp90?

Today, a study published in Pediatrics confirms that autistic children experience an attenuation of characteristic symptoms (specifically: irritability, hyperactivity, stereotypy, and inappropriate speech) during periods of fevers. See Curran et al., "Behaviors Associated With Fever in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders" in Pediatrics Vol. 120 No. 6 December 2007, pp. e1386-e1392 (doi:10.1542/peds.2007-0360).

I note with interest that the authors of the study make no mention of earlier work showing that antibodies to heat shock protein 90 are significantly elevated in autistic individuals. See Evers et al., "Heat shock protein 90 antibodies in autism" in Molecular Psychiatry (2002) 7, S26–S28. doi:10.1038/

It's tempting to hypothesize that autoimmunity to hsp90 is the salient feature of autism, and that restoration of hsp90 to near-normal levels in the brain in the course of normal "heat-shock response" explains the salutary effect of fever observed by Curran et al.

No comments: