Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social communication and interaction, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour. Approximately 1 in 70 children are diagnosed with ASD at an average age of 4 years with early therapeutic intervention shown to lessen the burden of ASD to the children and their families. A blood-based biomarker is crucially-needed for ASD as it would facilitate early intervention with behavioral therapies. Now, a study from researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center identifies a blood-based biomarker that may aid in earlier diagnosis of children with ASD. The team state that their findings identify a peptoid that can distinguish between ASD and normal male serum based upon its ability to bind to an antibody. The opensource study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Previous studies show that the immune system has been linked with ASD on numerous occasions. Abnormalities in both serum antibody concentrations and T cells have been reported for ASD compared to typically-developing children. Immunological anomalies in children with ASD include altered cytokine profiles, decreased immunoglobulin levels, altered cellular immunity, and neuroinflammation. Autoimmunity has also been described for autism with several studies reporting circulating autoantibodies to neural antigens. The current study sought to examine the immune system to search for antibodies in the blood that may be related to ASD.
The current study shows that boys with ASD have significantly reduced levels of a serum IgG1 antibody. Results show that analyzing 25 peptoid compounds that bind to IgG1, zeroes in on ASD1, which is 66% accurate in diagnosing ASD. Data findings show that when combined with thyroid stimulating hormone level measurements, the ASD1-binding biomarker was 73% accurate at diagnosis.
The team surmise they have identified a blood biomarker that distinguishes the majority of ASD study participants from a control group of similar age range. They go on to add that the biomarker was significantly correlated with the level of communication impairment, suggesting that the blood test may give insight into ASD severity. For the future, the researchers state that more testing, including analysis of blood samples from girls with ASD, is needed to further validate the findings.
Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center