Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 11, pp 1579–1585 | Cite as

Brief Report: “Allergic Symptoms” in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. More than Meets the Eye?

  • Asimenia Angelidou
  • Konstantinos-Dionysios Alysandratos
  • Shahrzad Asadi
  • Bodi Zhang
  • Konstantinos Francis
  • Magdalini Vasiadi
  • Dimitrios Kalogeromitros
  • Theoharis C. Theoharides
Brief Report


Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have either family and/or personal history of “allergic symptomatology”, often in the absence of positive skin or RAST tests. These symptoms may suggest mast cell activation by non-allergic triggers. Moreover, children with mastocytosis or mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), a spectrum of rare diseases characterized by increased number of activated mast cells in many organs, appear to have ASD at a rate tenfold higher (1/10 children) than that of the general population (1/100 children). Mast cell activation by allergic, infectious, environmental and stress-related triggers, especially perinatally, would release pro-inflammatory and neurotoxic molecules. We speculate these could disrupt the gut–blood–brain barriers, thus contributing to brain inflammation and ASD pathogenesis. Increased mast cell responsiveness may define at least a subgroup of ASD subjects, who could benefit from inhibition of mast cell activation.


Allergy Autism Brain Food intolerance Inflammation Mast cells 



Aspects of research mentioned here were funded by the National Autism Association, the Safe Minds, the Autism Research Collaborative, as well as Theta Biomedical Consulting and Development Co., Inc. (Brookline, MA). Asimenia Angelidou and Konstantinos-Dionysios Alysandratos are recipients of scholarships for postgraduate studies from the Hellenic State Scholarships Foundation (Athens, Greece). Bodi Zhang is partially supported by a graduate fellowship from Galenica, SA (Athens, Greece).

Conflict of interest

TCT is on the Scientific Advisory Board of The Mastocytosis Society. TCT is also the inventor of patent application US 12/534,571 “Methods of diagnosis and treating autism” that covers a new luteolin-containing dietary supplement NeuroProtek® (


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asimenia Angelidou
    • 1
    • 5
  • Konstantinos-Dionysios Alysandratos
    • 1
    • 5
  • Shahrzad Asadi
    • 1
  • Bodi Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Konstantinos Francis
    • 6
  • Magdalini Vasiadi
    • 1
    • 5
  • Dimitrios Kalogeromitros
    • 5
  • Theoharis C. Theoharides
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Molecular Immunopharmacology and Drug Discovery Laboratory, Department of Molecular Physiology and PharmacologyTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistryTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Internal MedicineTufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical CenterBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryTufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical CenterBostonUSA
  5. 5.Allergy Clinical Research Center, Allergy SectionAttikon General Hospital, University of Athens Medical SchoolAthensGreece
  6. 6.Child Psychiatry Section, Second Department of PsychiatryAttikon General Hospital, University of Athens Medical SchoolAthensGreece

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