Immune-mediated animal models of Tourette syndrome

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An autoimmune diathesis has been proposed in Tourette syndrome (TS) and related neuropsychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism and anorexia nervosa. Environmental triggers including infection and xenobiotics are hypothesized to lead to the production of brain-directed autoantibodies in a subset of genetically susceptible individuals. Although much work has focused on Group A Streptococcus (GAS), the role of this common childhood infection remains controversial. Animal model studies based on immune and autoantibody findings in TS have demonstrated immunoglobulin (Ig) deposits and stereotypic movements and related behavioral disturbances reminiscent of TS following exposure to GAS, other activators of host anti-microbial responses, soluble immune mediators and anti-GAS or anti-neuronal antibodies. Demonstration of the ability to recreate these abnormalities through passive transfer of serum IgG from GAS-immunized mice into naïve mice and abrogation of this activity through depletion of IgG has provided compelling evidence in support of the autoimmune hypothesis. Immunologically-based animal models of TS are a potent tool for dissecting the pathogenesis of this serious neuropsychiatric syndrome.

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