Autoantibodies in pregnancy: A cause of behavioral disorders in the child?

ScienceDaily | 9/18/2019 | Staff
KHALED (Posted by) Level 3
During pregnancy, antibodies from the mother's blood constantly enter the embryonic circulation via the umbilical cord to protect the developing child from infection. However, not all maternal antibodies are directed against foreign substances and serve to defend from pathogens. Some antibodies -- known as autoantibodies -- attack the body's own tissues. They may thus cause damage that can manifest, for example, as autoimmune diseases. Just like the beneficial antibodies, a pregnant woman passes on potentially harmful autoantibodies to her unborn child. This could promote the development of behavioral disorders in the child, as recent studies in animal models suggest. Initial data from studies in humans support these findings.

The current study, led by Dr. Harald Pruess from the DZNE's Berlin site and the Department of Neurology with Experimental Neurology at the Charite, focused on an autoantibody that targets a specific protein on the surface of brain cells. This molecule, known as 'NMDA receptor', is essential for the interconnection of neurons and normal brain development. "The NMDA receptor antibody is a relatively common autoantibody. Data from blood donations suggest that up to one percent of the general population may carry this particular autoantibody in their blood. The reasons for this are largely unclear," said Pruess. If this autoantibody reaches the brain, serious inflammations can arise. However, most carriers are free of such symptoms because the blood-brain barrier -- a filtering tissue that surrounds the brain's blood vessels -- is usually hardly penetrable for antibodies. Unless this barrier is damaged or, as with an embryo in early pregnancy, not yet fully developed.

Hypothesis - NMDA - Receptor - Antibodies - Brain

"We investigated the hypothesis that NMDA receptor antibodies reach the brain of the embryo and cause subtle...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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