Abstract It has been known for decades that the immune system has a tremendous impact on behavior. Most work has described the negative role of immune cells on the central nervous system. However, we and others have demonstrated over the last decade that a well-regulated immune system is needed for proper brain function. Here we discuss several neuro-immune interactions, using examples from brain homeostasis and disease states. We will highlight our understanding of the consequences of malfunctioning immunity on neurodevelopment and will discuss the roles of the innate and adaptive immune system in neurodevelopment and how T cells maintain a proper innate immune balance in the brain surroundings and within its parenchyma. Also, we describe how immune imbalance impairs higher order brain functioning, possibly leading to behavioral and cognitive impairment. Lastly, we propose our hypothesis that some behavioral deficits in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as in autism spectrum disorder, are the consequence of malfunctioning immunity. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI: Neuroimmunology in Health And Disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43681
Pages (from-to)18-27
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - Aug 18 2015


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Innate and adaptive immunity
  • Microglia
  • Neuroimmunology
  • Rett
  • Syndrome


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