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More Research Showing How Damaged the Immune System is in Autism

Meg sick age 5By Teresa Conrick

I have been writing about my daughter, Megan, her autism diagnosis, her immune system and the Microbiome for quite awhile. The connections continue to mount.  It makes sense that researchers keep seeing the immune system involved in Autism.  In our situation, Megan has both an Autism diagnosis and an Autoimmune diagnosis.  Treating her with antibiotics, probiotics, organic and prebiotic foods, and interventions to help the immune system work more productively, increases her health and also decreases her symptoms of Autism. Here is yet another study showing that the immune system and the brain are intimately connected:

Unexpected role of interferon-γ in regulating neuronal connectivity and social behaviour 

Immune dysfunction is commonly associated with several neurological and mental disorders...Here we show that meningeal immunity is also critical for social behaviour; mice deficient in adaptive immunity exhibit social deficits and hyper-connectivity of fronto-cortical brain regions. Associations between rodent transcriptomes from brain and cellular transcriptomes in response to T-cell-derived cytokines suggest a strong interaction between social behaviour and interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-driven responses. Concordantly, we demonstrate that inhibitory neurons respond to IFN-γ and increase GABAergic (γ-aminobutyric-acid) currents in projection neurons, suggesting that IFN-γ is a molecular link between meningeal immunity and neural circuits recruited for social behaviour...This study implicates adaptive immune dysfunction, in particular IFN-γ, in disorders characterized by social dysfunction and suggests a co-evolutionary link between social behaviour and an anti-pathogen immune response driven by IFN-γ signalling.

Here is that same study in layman's terms - Does the Immune System Have a Role in Battling Autism?, Scientific American, July 14, 2016:

Molecules that protect the body from infection may be needed for mice to socialize with their peers, according to a study published today in Nature...The findings bolster an emerging link between the immune system and conditions such as autism, says lead researcher Jonathan Kipnis, professor of neuroscience at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “Whether we like it or not, there is a piling up of evidence that the immune system has a major impact on brain function: The brain is not isolated from the rest of the body,” he says.  The study pinpoints an immune molecule called interferon gamma as the key to this link. This molecule primes cells to attack intruders, and is ramped up during infections.  

The researchers found that without interferon gamma, signals in a brain region called the prefrontal cortex run rampant, and mice tend to be asocial. The prefrontal cortex is involved in social behavior, and is thought to be overactive in some people with autism. “We show that an immune molecule directly controls brain circuits through neurons,” Kipnis says.

...This suggests that interferon gamma normally dampens brain signals in this region — and that it affects social behavior. Replenishing the spinal fluid of the mice with interferon gamma is enough to restore social behavior in the mice...The findings may explain the observation that some children with autism seem to become more sociable when they have a fever,  Kipnis says. Elevated levels of molecules such as interferon gamma accompany fevers.

Kipnis says understanding the immune link to social behavior might help scientists find drugs that treat autism. Clinicians might be able to administer the treatment in the cerebrospinal fluid, he says, rather than via the brain.

That's very interesting and hopeful.  I have written about interferon gamma and it seems pertinent now:

Does Ethylmercury (Thimerosal) Inhibit The Clearance Of Measles Virus Infection Of The Brain?

On June 18th, 1994, my daughter received an MMR vaccine and a HIB vaccine during a well-baby visit at our pediatrician.  Megan was fifteen months old.  Ten days later, her pediatrician report shows, -  "Fever- rash on body - ear infection."  That would be from me calling more than once as she had been sick since those vaccines.  She was to be put on antibiotics numerous times to try and recapture the health she once had.  Illness had become her chronic companion.  What was even more troubling was that my little girl had disappeared into an array of behaviors soon to be called "autism."

In that same article, I posted two studies that seemed related to each other, and to my daughter.  The first one showed "EtHg [THIMEROSAL] decreases IFN-gamma release". Further reading showed that IFN-gamma has antiviral activity and also important immunoregulatory functions. It is a potent activator of macrophages, has antiproliferative effects on transformed cells and it can potentiate the antiviral and antitumor effects of the type I interferons." Another study I have since discovered from the same year Megan was born, 1993, details this same phenomenon:  "mercury interferes with T cell IFN-gamma production by affecting the intracellular availability of GSH."  

The second study from my article was related to Megan's MMR vaccine at that same doctor visit:  

"IFN-ã applied to infected slices in the absence of primed leukocytes reduces the viral load by more than 80%; therefore, in brain tissue, IFN-ã [ IFN-gamma] is both necessary and sufficient to clear MV [measles virus]."

So we now see that again, IFN-gamma, seems to play an extremely important role in Autism.

I had to look and see if somehow the Microbiome was involved.  It really is the epicenter of the immune system and implicated so much in Autism.  This study below shows that it may actually be the gut -AGAIN- in Autism that controls this immune response of interferon gamma to the brain.  There's no getting away from MERCURY, the MMR vaccine and the Microbiome as big players in Autism.  Seeing the immune system implicated yet again in Autism just seals the deal.

Paneth cell extrusion and release of antimicrobial products is directly controlled by immune cell-derived IFN-γ

Paneth cells (PCs) are terminally differentiated, highly specialized secretory cells located at the base of the crypts of Lieberkühn in the small intestine. Besides their antimicrobial function, PCs serve as a component of the intestinal stem cell niche. By secreting granules containing bactericidal proteins like defensins/cryptdins and lysozyme, PCs regulate the microbiome of the gut....We show that PC degranulation does not directly occur upon stimulation with microbial antigens or bacteria. In contrast, the pro-inflammatory cytokine Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) induces rapid and complete loss of granules...The identification of IFN-γ as a trigger for degranulation and extrusion of PCs establishes a novel effector mechanism by which immune responses may regulate epithelial status and the gut microbiome.

Teresa Conrick is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.



And how much does SIBO play in all of this.

If these little crypts of Lieberkühn holding cells within their depths that make interferon sits right beside the villi - that are suppose to sweep the microbes out of the small intestines and they are not working sounds like a mess to me. . The small intestines is suppose to hold only a few 100,000 microbes at a time when the large intestines holds billions.

Angus Files

Thanks Teresa all great stuff.



I messed up and did not make myself clear back in the mid 70s- at the university - microbiology lab they exhibited plastic models in the various stages of a virus invading a cell.

I have also gone a bit over the sanity edge, the rabbit hole is too deep; The stubbornness that the federal agencies and the big pharma companies - are also insane - or there is a reason for not breaking up that DPT vaccine and putting the pedal to the metal of more vaccines when there is already a big problem with one of the very first vaccines.

Could be they were thinking about a good use for interferon all along, but they needed to mess up the immune system to makes us need it. . Yeah, I know -- too deep in the rabbit hole.


Geesh! That is a lot of new stuff they have discovered since I last looked.
In the mid 70s ; the news was - they had isolated and could probably make interferon. At last something they knew they knew existed in the body, humans had a potential to be reproduced in the lab. .

This was the same time - unknown to me - that the DPT vaccine was destroying so many young lives, Barbara Loe Fisher and other parents were suing big pharma - big pharma was fighting back by taking over education, hiring lobbyists for Congress.

I can't help thinking that some where in some big conference room - mad scientists and greedy corporate heads were discussing how if it was made - what would be the best most lucrative use for it - other than fighting the flu, or shingles -- I mean -even I noticed that the interferon medicine does not seem to work any better than our own immune systems to clear the these viruses, and there is a long list of side effects.

Back in the mid 70s; microbiology lab had a plastic virus invading a cell mode. the virus inserting it's own RNA into the DNA of the cell and making the cell produce the virus until it busted open; killing the cell and making more viruses to invade other healthy surrounding cells.

Hopeless - those viruses except we all knew we got better from most viruses and the reason was interferon ; when a cell died it released warning molecules to it's fellow cells, and helped them prepare to fight off the coming virus. I never even had the imagination that it has something to do with regulating gut microbiome - and in turn regulate frontal part of the human brain. Heck! (I did not know there was a gut microbiome at that time) The attitude was All microbes in the body was bad - die - die. all

So, I can see it might of all been ignorance too, and not be some conspiracy At the same time; the dangers of what the combination DPT vaccine was doing was tooooooo blissfully ignored.

Perhaps when - (IF) this ever ends , that will be the lesson to remember - to ignore such a large problem and keep doing what you are doing is - the worse kind of stupid - or maybe - just really cruel and uncaring - which is probably worse. God will judge that.

By the mdi.

Allison Chapman

Great dot connections Teresa!! Hopefully they start throwing some more research dollars into this rather than the genetic train!! I feel like their have been several "accidental" finding for autism lately!!


Why do they say "Whether we like it or not..."?


Thank You SO much Ms Connick for everything You do!!!!!

Prioritizing proper brain development over the theory of infectious disease prevention is something that that powers that be will never do.

Louise Stanley

Beautiful Teresa! I have always wondered why my daughter's ASD/Tourette's/ADD/PANS/PANDAS symptoms cleared up whenever she developed a fever. There was always speculation about that on the PANS/PANDAS/Lyme forum with plenty of other parents noticing the same reaction.

Thank you Tim for your post as well. We are using a couple of Buhner's protocols to help heal her chronic bartonella/babesia/lyme infections and as she heals her symptoms have resolved. Astragalus is one of the adaptogens we use. Perhaps it is helping more than I had realized.

Tim Lundeen

Fascinating, thanks!

There are a number of herbs that increase IFN-gamma, such as guduci (which curiously enough was highly recommended by a commenter here to heal ADD).

Stephen Buhner recommends using adaptogens instead of just trying to increase INF-gamma, because chronically high IFN-gamma causes its own problems. So his suggestion (in his book Healing Lyme) is to use Withania Somnifera (Ashwaghanda), Rhodiola, Licorice, Scutellaria Baicalensis (Chinese skullcap), and Astragalus. These all raise low levels and lower high levels. Give Ashwaghanda at night; Licorice in the morning; the others 3 or 4 times per day. Licorice should only be used short-term, the others can be used indefinitely.

Herbs have to be good quality. Whenever I can get them from MediHerb (via a practitioner who uses Standard Process) I do that, otherwise Sage Woman (http://www.sagewomanherbs.com/) or Mountain Rose (https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/). There are some other good smaller suppliers as well. I've had some very bad product from Banyan and do not recommend them.

maurine meleck

Great post Teresa. Thanks. No matter all the things I do for Josh his mycoplasma count just keeps creeping up again and again, even after we have brought it way down. A sure sign his immune system is still all screwed up.

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