By Kurt N. Woeller, D.O.
A groundbreaking article titled “Neuroglial activation and neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with autism” from John Hopkins University in 2005 paved the way for greater understanding and recognition within the medical community that many individuals on the autism-spectrum are dealing with brain inflammation as a causative or contributing factor to their disorder.
This article helped to open the discussion about biological reasons for certain individual’s autism, and as we can see from previous discussion about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (and TBI) this information crosses the line to other disorders too. In summary, here is what the John Hopkins research team did in the study, and what they found:
• They examined tissue from 3 different regions of the brain in 11 deceased individuals with autism – ages 5 to 44 (who died of accidents or injuries).
• They measured cytokine and chemokine from cerebrospinal fluid in 6 living individuals with autism – ages 5 to 12.
Their findings were impressive:
• There was active neuroinflammatory processes in the cerebral cortex, white matter, and notably in cerebellum of autistic patients.
• There was marked activation of microglia and astroglia.
• There was elevated macrophage chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) and tumor growth factor-beta1, derived from neuroglia.
• The cerebrospinal fluid analysis showed a unique proinflammatory profile of cytokines, including a marked increase in MCP-1 (a pro-inflammatory cytokine).
The authors concluded that the findings “indicate that innate neuroimmune reactions play a pathogenic role in an undefined proportion of autistic patients, suggesting that future therapies might involve modifying neuroglial responses in the brain.”
Not every individual with autism has brain inflammation, but a significant percentage do or are suspected of having this problem. There are many therapies that have been shown to be helpful for brain inflammation. Some of the popular remedies include, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), ibuprofen, curcumin (turmeric), resveratrol, glutathione and Methyl-B12.