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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
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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