Children with autism experience deficits in a type of immune cell that protects the body from infection.

Children with autism experience deficits in a type of immune cell that protects the body from infection. Called granulocytes, the cells exhibit one-third the capacity to fight infection and protect the body from invasion compared with the same cells in children who are developing normally.

The cells, which circulate in the bloodstream, are less able to deliver crucial infection-fighting oxidative responses to combat invading pathogens because of dysfunction in their tiny energy-generating organelles, the mitochondria.

The results raise the question of how mutations in PTEN, a general regulator of growth, can have relatively selective effects on behavior and cognitive development.

Mutations in a specific gene that is disrupted in some individuals with autism results in too much growth throughout the brain, and yet surprisingly specific problems in social interactions, at least in mouse models that mimic this risk factor in humans.

An Oregon State University researcher has found a relationship between motor skill deficiencies and the severity of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in very young children.

The findings, believed to the be the first to show a direct relationship between motor skills and autism severity, indicate that development of fine and gross motor skills should be included in treatment plans for young children with autism.

Proteins involved in autism interact with many more partners than previously known. These interactions had not been detected earlier because they involve alternatively spliced forms of autism genes found in the brain.

The scientists isolated hundreds of new variants of autism genes from the human brain, and then screened their protein products against thousands of other proteins to identify interacting partners. Proteins produced by alternatively-spliced autism genes and their many partners formed a biological network that produced an unprecedented view of how autism genes are connected.

Researchers have found that abnormal levels of lipid molecules in the brain can affect the interaction between two key neural pathways in early prenatal brain development, which can trigger autism.

"Using real-time imaging microscopy, we determined that higher levels of PGE2 can change Wnt-dependent behaviour of neural stem cells by increasing cell migration or proliferation. As a result, this could affect how the brain is organized and wired. Moreover, we found that an elevated level of PGE2 can increase expression of Wnt-regulated genes — Ctnnb1, Ptgs2, Ccnd1, and Mmp9. “Interestingly, all these genes have been previously implicated in various autism studies."