Vijendra K. Singh, Sheren X. Lin, Elizabeth Newell, Courtney Nelson
Abnormal Measles-Mumps-Rubella Antibodies and CNS Autoimmunity in
Children with Autism
Department of Biology and Biotechnology Center, Utah State University,
Logan, Utah, USA

Journal of Biomedical Science 9:4:2002, 359-364.

Autoimmunity to the central nervous system (CNS), especially to myelin
basic protein (MBP), may play a causal role in autism, a
neurodevelopmental disorder. Because many autistic children harbor
elevated levels of measles antibodies, we conducted a serological
study of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and MBP autoantibodies. Using
serum samples of 125 autistic children and 92 control children,
antibodies were assayed by ELISA or immunoblotting methods. ELISA
analysis showed a significant increase in the level of MMR antibodies
in autistic children. Immunoblotting analysis revealed the presence of
an unusual MMR antibody in 75 of 125 (60%) autistic sera but not in
control sera. This antibody specifically detected a protein of 73-75
kD of MMR. This protein band, as analyzed with monoclonal antibodies,
was immunopositive for measles hemagglutinin (HA) protein but not for
measles nucleoprotein and rubella or mumps viral proteins. Thus the
MMR antibody in autistic sera detected measles HA protein, which is
unique to the measles subunit of the vaccine. Furthermore, over 90% of
MMR antibody-positive autistic sera were also positive for MBP
autoantibodies, suggesting a strong association between MMR and CNS
autoimmunity in autism. Stemming from this evidence, we suggest that
an inappropriate antibody response to MMR, specifically the measles
component thereof, might be related to pathogenesis of autism.

Copyright 2002 National Science Council, ROC and S. Karger AG, Basel