Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)




Reed P. Warren


Abnormal T lymphocyte reactions in both autism and Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been reported. This research investigated the possibility that these abnormalities may involve circulating antithymic antibodies. Plasma samples from autistic patients, AD patients, and normal-matched controls were tested for reactivity against murine thymocytes.

In the first of 3 studies results of the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were statistically significant for binding (P < 0.001) between antithymic antibodies in plasmas of AD patients and murine thymocytes. Binding (P < 0.05) in low dilutions (1/2.5 and 1/5} of autistic patient plasmas was also observed. In the second study, plasmas of neither autistic nor AD patients significantly inhibited DNA synthesis of thymic cells in the presence of interleukin-1 (IL-l} and phytohemagglutinin (PHA). In the third study, no significant increases (P > 0.05) in cytotoxic activities were detected using AD patient plasmas and both untreated and heat-treated autistic patient plasmas. After further testing, these heat-treated plasmas diluted 1/64 and 1/128 had increased cytotoxicities (P

Therefore, circulating antithymic antibodies may be involved in abnormal T lymphocyte reactions in autism and AD. Since they probably do not act alone, future research should study these complex abnormalities using human thymocytes.



Included in

Biology Commons