Detection and Characterization of pathogenic Autoantibodies Targeting the Dopamine System in PANDAS and Tourette Syndrome

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
University of Sydney Australia
Investigators Name
Dale, Russell, PhD, M.R.C.P.H.

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder that is characterized by the presence of motor and vocal tics. The disorder is thought to be caused by an altered transmitter (chemical) system within the brain and dopamine is frequently considered to be the most likely transmitter involved. For over a decade, a number of researchers have suggested that the immune system may affect brain function in some people with TS. We hypothesize that the blood of people with TS may have antibodies that bind to the cell surface of nerve cells within the brain. We further hypothesize that these antibodies may affect dopamine functioning and metabolism in the brain cells and thereby inhibit normal brain functioning. In this project we will examine the blood of people with TS to see whether it has antibodies that bind to proteins in the brain that are directly involved in dopamine transmission. Detection of these antibodies could enhance our understanding of the cause of TS and could lead to novel treatment options for some people with the disorder. Russell C. Dale, Ph.D., M.R.C.P.H., University of Sydney Sydney, Australia Fabienne Brilot, Ph.D. Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, Australia Tanya Murphy, M.D., M.S. University of South Florida St. Petersburg, FL Award: $71,600 Commentary: Antibodies are normally produced to fight microorganisms and help a person overcome an infection. Normally, these antibodies are able to recognize and ignore the body’s own cells, but sometimes, the immune system ceases to recognize the body’s normal constituents as “self,” and starts to “attack” the body’s own cells, causing inflammation and damage. In this study, Drs. Dale, Brilot and Murphy will determine whether people with TS have antibodies that attack brain cells and stop these cells from working properly. Finding these antibodies could explain the cause of TS in a sub-group of people with the disorder. Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2009-2010