Research into the connection between brain inflammation and autism is not new. Studies published in 2005 in Epilepsia, Annals of Neurology and Clinical Neuropsychiatry have all established a correlation between brain inflammation and autism. Additional studies from other organizations have supported the finding that inflammation in the body is connected to a wide variety of health issues, including autism.
Today, researchers at John’s Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore are beginning to research possible treatments for inflammation in the brain, in the hopes of helping reduce or eliminate symptoms of autism.
Specifically targeting microglial cells (these are cells that watch the brain for threats) the team hopes to create a treatment that changes these cells from constantly being ‘on,’ causing inflammation in the brain, to behaving correctly and activating only when there is a threat.
This type of inflammation is not clearly understood and more research will be required to determine the effects of this inflammation in the long run. Finding the genes that cause this inflammation-response will be vital to finding a treatment.
Many other studies have supported the correlation between inflammation and autism and this is not a new idea to parents of children on the spectrum. Many parents of autistic children have promoted the use of special diets that reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Diets that are gluten free, casein free, additive free and/or dairy free are commonly used by parents in an attempt to reduce inflammation throughout the body. These diets vary in their effectiveness for each child and many children do not show any change in behavior when on a special diet, other children show significant improvements These diets address inflammation in the digestive track, not in the brain.
Professor Arking and his team will be the first scientific team to attempt to address the inflammation issue in the brain directly.