School of Health & Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Bundoora, VIC 3083, Australia; Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by deficits in social communication and restricted or repetitive behaviours. The clinical presentation of ASD is highly variable and diagnosis is based on the presence of impaired social communication and repetitive and/or restricted behaviours. Although the precise pathophysiologies underlying ASD are unclear, growing evidence supports a role for dysregulated neuroinflammation. The potential involvement of microglia and astrocytes reactive to inflammatory stimuli in ASD has generated much interest due to their varied roles including in mounting an immune response and regulating synaptic function. Increased numbers of reactive microglial and astrocytes in both ASD postmortem tissue and animal models have been reported. Whether dysregulation of glial subtypes exacerbates alterations in neural connectivity in the brain of autistic patients is not well explored. A role for the gut-brain axis involving microbial-immune-neuronal cross talk is also a growing area of neuroinflammation research. Greater understanding of these interactions under patho/physiological conditions and the identification of consistent immune profile abnormalities can potentially lead to more reliable diagnostic measures and treatments in ASD.