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Mast Cells, Stress, Fear and Autism Spectrum Disorder

1
Molecular Immunopharmacology and Drug Discovery Laboratory, Department of Immunology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA
2
Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA
3
Department of Internal Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA 02111, USA
4
Department of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA 02111, USA
5
Graduate Program in Education, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(15), 3611; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20153611
Received: 5 June 2019 / Revised: 18 July 2019 / Accepted: 20 July 2019 / Published: 24 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mast Cells in Health and Disease)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition characterized by impaired communication and obsessive behavior that affects 1 in 59 children. ASD is expected to affect 1 in about 40 children by 2020, but there is still no distinct pathogenesis or effective treatments. Prenatal stress has been associated with higher risk of developing ASD in the offspring. Moreover, children with ASD cannot handle anxiety and respond disproportionately even to otherwise benign triggers. Stress and environmental stimuli trigger the unique immune cells, mast cells, which could then trigger microglia leading to abnormal synaptic pruning and dysfunctional neuronal connectivity. This process could alter the “fear threshold” in the amygdala and lead to an exaggerated “fight-or-flight” reaction. The combination of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), secreted under stress, together with environmental stimuli could be major contributors to the pathogenesis of ASD. Recognizing these associations and preventing stimulation of mast cells and/or microglia could greatly benefit ASD patients. View Full-Text
Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; CRH; mast cells; stress autism spectrum disorder; CRH; mast cells; stress
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MDPI and ACS Style

Theoharides, T.C.; Kavalioti, M.; Tsilioni, I. Mast Cells, Stress, Fear and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 3611. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20153611

AMA Style

Theoharides TC, Kavalioti M, Tsilioni I. Mast Cells, Stress, Fear and Autism Spectrum Disorder. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2019; 20(15):3611. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20153611

Chicago/Turabian Style

Theoharides, Theoharis C., Maria Kavalioti, and Irene Tsilioni. 2019. "Mast Cells, Stress, Fear and Autism Spectrum Disorder" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 20, no. 15: 3611. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20153611

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