The study was conducted by using blood samples of children enrolled in the Childhood Risk of Autism and the Environment (CHARGE) Study, and included both children with severe Autism, and peers of the same age and sex that were developing typically.
Research showed that children with Autism experience significant deficits in immune cells that protect the body from invasion of pathogens, compared to children that have neurotypical development. These essential cells, which circulate in the bloodstream, have a weakened ability to deliver infection-fighting oxidative responses, which are fundamental in combating invading pathogens.
Granulocytes, a white blood cell that has enzymes which digest invading microbes, defending the body from disease, were found to not function efficiently in children with Autism. Eleonora Napoli, lead study author and scientist in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at UC Davis, states, “Granulocytes fight cellular invaders like bacteria and viruses by producing highly reactive oxidants, toxic chemicals and kill microorganisms. Our findings show that in children with Autism, the level of that response was lower and slower.” She continues, “The granulocytes generated less highly reactive oxidants and took longer to produce them.”
In addition, researchers found that the mitochondria in the granulocytes of Autistic children consumed less oxygen than that of their neurotypical peers. Mitochondria are the main intracellular source of oxygen free radicals, which are very reactive and can harm DNA. Children with Autism were shown to have cells that produced more free radicals, which caused more damage, creating more oxidative stress.
The study also showed that deficiencies in the cells’ ability to fuel brain neurons might lead to cognitive impairments associated with Autism. The higher levels of free radicals might also be a contributing factor to Autism severity.
The ICare4Autism International Conference will be discussing additional medical research, as well as advances in Autism treatments. This Autism conference will be taking place on June 30th to July 2nd in NYC, and features presentations from notable medical researchers, professors, and doctors. Speakers include Dr. Eric Hollander, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Chairman of the ICare4Autism Advisory Council, who will be giving presentations, as well as lead a question and answer session. This is an Autism conference you will not want to miss! Early bird ticket specials are still available! To select your tickets, please click here.