Diagrammatic representation of proposed events and interactions during the perinatal period that may contribute to autism. Placental dysfunction, as well as autoimmunity, maternal infection and gestational stress lead to prematurity. Defective neuronal development and susceptibility genes make the infant vulnerable to environmental triggers that activate mast cells to release mediators that disrupt the gut-blood–brain barriers causing brain inflammation. CRH, corticotropin-releasing hormone; IgE, immunoglobulin E; IL, interleukin; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; MCP-1, macrophage chemo-attractant protein-1; mtDNA, mitochondrial DNA; NT, neurotensin; PCB, polychlorinated biphenyl; ROS, reactive oxygen species; SP, substance P; TNF, tumor necrosis factor.
Angelidou et al. BMC Pediatrics 2012 12:89 doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-89