Autism spectrum disorder is of interest neurochemically because it represents a relatively homogeneous disorder with regard to disease development, abnormal cognitive development and intellectual development disturbance. A consistent finding in autistic children is a high number of mast cells and a high level of serotonin which is also found at elevated concentrations in the urine of autistic patients. In addition, a dysfunction of clinical conditions, such as gastrointestinal and immunological symptoms, is frequently noted in autistic children, however, IgE does not appear to be prevalent in these children but probably an increase of cytokines/chemokines produced by mast cells at an early age may play an important role. Therefore an immune hypothesis, involving also autoimmunity, is one possible pathogenetic mechanism in autism. In conclusion, mast cell activation could contribute to immune and neuroinflammatory abnormalities that are evident in patients with autism spectrum disorders.
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