Cerebral Lactate Levels Higher in Adults with Autism than Neurotypical Controls

April 29, 2024

Study Suggests that Lactate May Be a Potential Biomarker for Mitochondrial Dysfunction in High-Functioning Adults on the Spectrum 

New German research has investigated cerebral lactate (Lac+) levels in high-functioning adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS), targeting the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) as a potential biomarker for mitochondrial dysfunction. The authors chose to study Lac+ to investigate how the body uses energy. Previous research has suggested that some individuals with ASD may suffer from mitochondrial dysfunction. Lactate, which serves as an indicator of metabolic irregularities, may potentially serve as a diagnostic marker for this particular subset of individuals with ASD. In this study, researchers examined adults with ASD who are considered high-functioning to determine if they have increased levels of lactate in their brains compared to neurotypical controls (NTCs). Results showed that the mean PCC Lac+ levels were significantly higher in the ASD group compared to the NTCs, with 9.4% of the ASD group exhibiting elevated levels. However, no significant correlation was found between blood serum lactate levels and MRS-derived Lac+ levels. The study cautiously suggests that lactate could serve as a potential biomarker for mitochondrial dysfunction in a subgroup of ASD, though the lower prevalence than anticipated and a moderate increase in Lac+ levels warrant further investigation to understand the underlying mechanisms and relationships with mitochondrial function.

Original Study

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