August 14, 2013

Oxidative stress in autism

A biomarker for oxidative stress is elevated in patients with both autism spectrum disorder and gastrointestinal dysfunction, suggesting opportunities for individualized approaches to clinical care.


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who also have gastrointestinal dysfunction (GID) are more likely than others with autism to have severely disrupted metabolic function, according to researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Southern California.

Reporting in the July issue of the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers suggest that “dysfunctional biology” in the brain and gastrointestinal system, both of which are highly metabolically active, “may have additive effects in disrupting behavioral and biological functions.”

First author Phillip Gorrindo, Ph.D., a student in Vanderbilt’s Medical Scientist Training Program, and colleagues compared blood levels of F2t-isoprostanes, prostaglandin-like molecules that are considered to be the “gold standard measure of oxidative stress,” in children with ASD or GID only, those with both conditions, and a control group.

F2t-isoprostane levels were higher in the three clinical groups than in the control group but were “significantly elevated” in children with both conditions, suggesting that they may be a useful “biomarker” for further studies of the role of oxidative stress in ASD.

Other authors were Evon Batey Lee, Ph.D., associate professor of Pediatrics, and BethAnn McLaughlin, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology and Pharmacology, both from Vanderbilt, and Christianne Joy Lane and Pat Levitt, Ph.D., of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

The research was supported in part by National Institutes of Health grants HD065289, GM007347, RR024978 and TR000445. Additional support was provided by the Marino Autism Research Institute, the Pediatric Clinical Research Center at Vanderbilt University, The Scott Family Foundation, and the Vanderbilt Autism Treatment Network Site, a program funded by Autism Speaks.