Protein Biomarker Panel Detects ASD in Young Boys

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 10 Jul 2017
Two protein biomarkers in the blood can be used as a panel to identify boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with better than 82% accuracy.

ASD, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by defective social and communication interactions and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, affects approximately 1.5% of children in the United States. Most cases are not diagnosed until about age four, when communication and social disabilities become apparent. Thus, an ASD blood biomarker may enable early diagnosis and/or identification of new therapeutic targets.

Image: Researchers have identified a blood biomarker that may aid in earlier diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD (Photo courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center).
Image: Researchers have identified a blood biomarker that may aid in earlier diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD (Photo courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center).

To identify potential ASD biomarkers, investigators at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, USA) used a multiplex immunoassay method to screen serum samples from ASD and typically developing (TD) boys (30 boys in each group) for differences in 110 proteins.

They reported finding 11 proteins that together could confirm ASD with modest accuracy using multiple training and test sets. Two of the 11 proteins were further tested using a different detection platform and with a larger sample of ASD and TD boys. The two proteins, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and interleukin-8 (IL-8), had been previously identified as putative biomarkers for ASD.

TSH levels were found to be significantly lower in ASD boys, whereas IL-8 levels were significantly elevated. The diagnostic accuracy for ASD based upon TSH or IL-8 levels alone varied from 74 to 76%, but using both proteins together, the diagnostic accuracy increased to 82%.

"ASD is a very heterogeneous disorder, and if we can identify biomarkers for even a subgroup of ASD patients, then that would be extremely helpful not only for early diagnosis but also for the development of therapeutics," said senior author Dr. Dwight German, professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The ASD biomarker study was published in the June 2, 2017, online edition of the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

Related Links:
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center


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