Free public programs
MJC West Campus
March 21: “Immune Activation in
Dr. Judy Van de Water from UC Davis will discuss potential risk factors such
as the presence of antibodies in mothers that could be contributing to the
incidence and severity of childhood autism.
Dr. Judy Van de
Water from UC Davis will discuss potential risk factors such as the presence
of certain antibodies in mothers that could be contributing to the incidence
and severity of childhood autism.
Dr. Van de
Water joined the faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine at the
University of California, Davis in 1999. In 2000, she also joined the
faculty of the newly formed UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute when she began her
research on the immunobiology of autism. Dr. Van de Water’s laboratory
pursues research programs pertaining to autoimmune and clinical immune-based
disorders including the biological aspects of autism spectrum disorders.
The application of Dr. Van de Water’s immunopathology background has been
instrumental in the dissection of the immune anomalies noted in some
individuals with autism, and in the differentiation of various autism
behavioral phenotypes at a biological level. Dr. Van de Water is
currently the Director of the NIEHS funded Center for Children’s
Environmental Health at UC Davis, investigating potential environmental risk
factors contributing to the incidence and severity of childhood autism. Dr.
Van de Water holds both a B.S. in Biologic Sciences, and a Ph.D. in
Immunology from the University of California at Davis.
dysregulation during gestation has been described as a risk factor for
neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. Such
dysregulation can be manifest as inflammation or cytokine dysregulation, as
well as maternal autoantibodies that recognize proteins in the developing.
We have identified fetal-brain reactive maternal IgG antibodies in 23%
subset of mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and an
association between presence of these antibodies and severe behavioral
manifestations. Fetal exposure during gestation to brain-reactive maternal
IgG may be the underlying cause of the behavioral symptoms noted in some ASD
cases and unraveling the molecular interactions between these antibodies and
their targets may open new avenues for treatment and prevention. This
presentation will address how those autoantibodies were identified, and how
they can be used as an early biomarker to detect autism risk.