The Phaserl


Could Boosting the Immune System Halt Autism and Schizophrenia?

by Julie Fidler, Natural Society:

Scientists have for years theorized that the immune system and the brain are more interconnected than previously thought, with findings of recent studies backing this hypothesis. For example, researchers recently discovered there is a physical connection between the immune system and the brain’s blood supply. Now, researchers have recently begun to find out that there may be a more psychological connection.

According to researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) and the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School, the immune system may directly affect social behavior in certain animals, such as mice. The finding could have enormous implications for people with autism-spectrum disorders or with schizophrenia. [1]

Jonathan Kipnis, professor of neuroscience at UVA in Charlottesville, said:

“The brain and the adaptive immune system were thought to be isolated from each other, and any immune activity in the brain was perceived as sign of a pathology. And now, not only are we showing that they are closely interacting, but some of our behavior traits might have evolved because of our immune response to pathogens.

“It’s crazy, but maybe we are just multicellular battlefields for two ancient forces: pathogens and the immune system. Part of our personality may actually be dictated by the immune system.”

Kipnis and his colleagues found that blocking one particular kind of immune molecule in a mouse’s brain caused abnormal behavior that vanished after restoration of the molecule. [2]

When this molecule, called interferon gamma, was genetically blocked, the rodents’ brains became hyperactive and specific areas of the brain that govern social interaction were unable to function properly. The affected mice – normally highly social creatures – interacted significantly less with the other mice.

The researchers say this means that the immune system, along with controlling whether or not we get sick, also appears to control our desire to interact with others.

And that, in turn, could mean that immune system problems might play a role in one’s inability to have normal social interactions. [2]

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