Abnormal Folate Receptor Autoimmunity, Oxidative Stress, and Cerebral Spinal Fluid Findings in Children with Severe Infantile Autism

ASD Subjects Showed High Levels of Autoantibodies and Oxidative Stress but Low Levels of Serotonin

A new study published in the Autism Research Journal has identified more compelling evidence that folate receptor (FR) autoantibodies, oxidative stress, and abnormal brain serotonin levels are biomarkers not only common in autism, but also exhibited in severe infantile autism. This recent report demonstrated that children with severe infantile autism often have serum folate receptor autoantibodies that block the transport of vitamin folate across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. The study’s researchers found that parents are often asymptomatic carriers of serum FR autoantibodies. If a mother is a carrier, it is possible that she can block folate passage across the placenta to her unborn child. If this situation transpires, folate deficiency can occur, making the child susceptible to neural tube defects and autism. The study also showed that oxidative stress was found in children with severe infantile autism. Reactive oxygen derivatives occur during oxidative stress which cause damage to DNA. When DNA is damaged, DNA functioning changes along with the regulation of gene expression. Furthermore, the study found that excessive amounts of toxic oxygen derivatives likely damage the enzyme producing neuro-messenger serotonin in the brain. Approximately one-third of the children with autism in this study exhibited diminished serotonin in this study. Ultimately, the research team called for testing children with autism for oxidative stress and its origin as well as testing for serum FR autoantibodies in the hopes that new approaches to effective treatments can be achieved.

Study Abstract

Original Study

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