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Unformatted text preview: r's immune system, you turn on a variety of cytokines to fight the infection," he says. Patterson found that the offspring of the infected mothers exhibited a whole list of abnormal behaviors. Among them were the three "cardinal behavioral symptoms of autism," he says: impaired communication, reduced social interaction and repetitive, stereotyped behaviors (Trends in Molecular Medicine, 2011). What's more, the mice showed heightened anxiety and were more sensitive to hallucinogenic drugs—a sensitivity also seen in humans with schizophrenia. These changes can be traced to the presence of a cytokine called interleukin­6 (IL­6). When produced in excess by a pregnant mouse, the molecule activates subsets of neurons in the fetus's brain. IL­6 also activates cells in the placenta, altering endocrine function and changing growth hormones. "That's bound to have an effect on [fetal] development," he says. Cytokines including IL­6 can also interfere with the synthesis of serotonin in the brain, Pace adds. An excess of cytokines leads to a cascade of molecular events tha...
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This note was uploaded on 01/23/2014 for the course PY 352 taught by Professor Parker during the Spring '11 term at Alabama.

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