The hypothesis of a putative opioid hyperactivity in autistic syndrome, coupled with the important involvement of opiate peptides in the control of neural and immune functions, prompted us to correlate alterations in plasma β-endorphin levels with a series of immune parameters. Moreover, some preliminary results on the effect of a therapy with the longacting opiate antagonist naltrexone, are mentioned. Twelve autistic patients ranging from 7 to 15 years old, diagnosed according to the DSM-III, entered a double-blind cross-over study. A group of age- and sex-matched mentally retarded, nonautistic children were studied as a control population. The immunological evaluation revealed important abnormalities in autistic children, characterized by CD4/CD8 inversion, increase in cytotoxic suppressor (Tc) cell and marked alterations of NK cell populations. Plasma endorphins showed a dimorphic pattern with high and low plasma concentrations. The possible correlation between the degree of neuroimmunological deficit and plasma endorphins are discussed.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 1990|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology