Digital Public Defence: Vesna Bryn Vesna Bryn at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis Immunological aspects of autism spectrum disorders in children for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

Image may contain: Clothing, Nose, Hair, Cheek, Jaw.

Photo: Model Day Studio

The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

Click here to participate in the public defence

Download Zoom here

Due to copyright reasons, an electronic copy of the thesis must be ordered from the faculty. In order for the faculty to have time to process the order, it must be received by the faculty no later than 2 days prior to the public defence. Orders received later than 2 days before the defence will not be processed. Inquiries regarding the thesis after the public defence must be addressed to the candidate.

Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

See Digital Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Associate Professor Mady Hornig, Columbia University Medical Center, USA
  • Second opponent: Professor Maj-Britt Posserud, Haukeland University Hospital
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Emeritus Frode Vartdal, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Professor Emeritus Ragnhild Emblem, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

 Vice-rector for Research Heidi Ormstad, University of South-Eastern Norway


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) constitutes a broad spectrum of heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders that all start at an early age. Although the pathogenesis of ASD is not completely understood, an altered immune response has been implicated. The overall aim of this research was to improve the understanding of abnormalities in the immune system, in the kynurenine pathway (KP) and neurotrophic factors and their possible interactions, in ASD and its diagnostic subgroups. To achieve this goal, we examined the serum/plasma levels of 12 different cytokines, tryptophan (TRP), tryptophan catabolites (TRYCATs), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), in 65 children with ASD and 30 healthy controls. In this study we found that the cytokine levels did not differ significantly between the ASD group overall and the healthy controls. However, a noticeably higher interleukin (IL)-8 and lower IL-10 levels were found in the childhood autism subgroup compared with controls. We found that the KA level was lower and the KYN/KA ratio was significantly higher in ASD children than in healthy controls, which might indicate that the level of neurotoxicity is higher and the kynurenine aminotransferase (KAT) activity is lower in ASD children. Finally, we found that the plasma level of BDNF was higher in children with ASD than in controls, and particularly high in ASD children with intellectual disability (ID; intelligence quotient <70). Our results demonstrate possible neuroinflammatory and neurotoxic activity in children with childhood autism and ID and may have important implications for future therapeutic strategies applied to children with autism.

Additional information

Contact the research support staff.

Published Apr. 26, 2021 11:21 AM - Last modified May 12, 2021 10:08 AM