Friday, May 21, 2010: 4:15 PM
Grand Ballroom CD Level 5 (Philadelphia Marriott Downtown)3:45 PM
Background: Because a MET variant exists in the genome of a significant number of autistic individuals, we hypothesized that this might result in abnormal levels of serum HGF, particularly those with severe GI disease. Objectives: To assess serum Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF) levels in autistic children with severe gastrointestinal (GI) disease and to test the hypothesis that there is a relationship between GI pathology and HGF concentration. Methods: Serum from 29 autistic children with chronic digestive disease (symptoms for a minimum of 6–12 months), most with ileo-colonic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia (LNH—markedly enlarged lymphoid nodules) and inflammation of the colorectum, small bowel and/or stomach), and 31 controls (11 age matched autistic children with no GI disease, 11 age matched non autistic children without GI disease and 9 age matched non autistic children with GI disease) were tested for HGF using ELISAs. HGF concentration of autistic children with GI disease was compared to GI disease severity. Results: Autistic children with GI disease had significantly lower serum levels of HGF compared to controls (autistic without GI disease; p = 0.0005, non autistic with no GI disease; p = 0.0001, and non autistic with GI disease; p = 0.001). Collectively, all autistic children had significantly lower HGF levels when compared to non autistic children (p < 0.0001). We did not find any relationship between severity of GI disease and HGF concentration in autistic children with GI disease. Conclusions: These results suggest an association between HGF serum levels and the presence of GI disease in autistic children and explain a potential functional connection between the Met gene and autism. The concentration of serum HGF may be a useful biomarker for autistic children, especially those with severe GI disease.