Background: It is widely accepted that alterations in immune functioning are an important aspect of
the pathoetiology and pathophysiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A relatively under-explored aspect
of these alterations is the role of gammaDelta (γδ) T cells, prenatally and in the postnatal gut, which seem important
hubs in driving the course of ASD.
Methods: The present article describes the role of γδ T cells in ASD, including their interactions with other immune
cells shown to be altered in this spectrum of conditions, including natural killer cells and mast cells.
Results: Other risk factors in ASD, such as decreased vitamins A & D, as well as toxin-associated activation of
the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, may also be intimately linked to γδ T cells, and alterations in the regulation of
these cells. A growing body of data has highlighted an important role for alterations in mitochondria functioning
in the regulation of immune cells, including natural killer cells and mast cells. This is an area that requires investigation
in γδ T cells and their putative subtypes.
Conclusion: It is also proposed that maternal stress may act through alterations in the maternal microbiome,
leading to changes in how the balance of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which may act to regulate the
placenta and foetal development. Following an overview of previous research on immune, especially γδ T cells,
effects in ASD, the future research implications are discussed in detail.