Serum Levels of Anterior Pituitary Hormones in Children with Autism

Saturday, May 19, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
9:00 AM
K. Iwata1, H. Matsuzaki1 and N. Mori2, (1)Research Center for Child Mental Development, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan, (2)Psychiatry and Neurology, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan
Background: The aetiology of autism is not well understood, although it likely involves genetic, immunologic and environmental factors. The diagnosis of autism is based solely on behavioural characteristics, since there is currently no biological marker for autism. Several studies have examined anterior pituitary hormones as possible biological markers for autism. However, many of these studies have yielded contradictory results.  

Objectives: To test whether the anterior pituitary hormones and cortisol were useful as biological markers for autism, we assessed the basal serum levels of them in serum from male, drug-naïve subjects with autism. 

Methods: We determined the serum levels of six anterior pituitary hormones, including adrenocorticotropic hormone and growth hormone in 32 male subjects with autism (age: 6-18 years) and 34 healthy age- and sex-matched control subjects by a Bio-Plex suspension array system. Additionally, we also determined cortisol in these subjects by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. 

Results: Serum levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone, growth hormone and cortisol were significantly higher in subjects with autism than in controls. Additionally, there was a significantly positive correlation between cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone levels in autism.  

Conclusions: Our results suggest that increased basal serum levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone accompanied by increased cortisol and growth hormone might be implicated in the pathophysiology of autism.

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