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Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, poor communication skills, and repetitive/restrictive behaviors. Elevated blood levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines have been reported in subjects with autism spectrum disorder. On the other hand, early childhood adverse experience also increases blood levels of these cytokines. Since social experience of children with autism spectrum disorder is generally unlike to typically developing children, we hypothesized that social interaction during childhood contribute to pro-inflammatory cytokine expression in subjects with autism spectrum disorder. We compared revised Autism Diagnostic Interview scores and expression levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of subjects with autism spectrum disorder (n = 30). The score of domain A on the revised Autism Diagnostic Interview, indicating social interaction impairment in early childhood, was negatively correlated with tumor necrosis factor-alpha mRNA expression level in peripheral blood mononuclear cells but not interleukin-1 beta or -6. Consistently, tumor necrosis factor-alpha mRNA expression was markedly low in subjects with autism spectrum disorder compared to typically developing children who presumably experienced the regular levels of social interaction. These findings suggest that the low blood levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha mRNA in subjects with autism spectrum disorder might be due to impaired social interaction in early childhood. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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