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Investigation of the serum levels of anterior pituitary hormones in male children with autism

Author(s): Iwata Keiko | Matsuzaki Hideo | Miyachi Taishi | Shimmura Chie | Suda Shiro | Tsuchiya Kenji J | Matsumoto Kaori | Suzuki Katsuaki | Iwata Yasuhide | Nakamura Kazuhiko | Tsujii Masatsugu | Sugiyama Toshirou | Sato Kohji | Mori Norio

Journal: Molecular Autism
ISSN 2040-2392

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 16;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background The neurobiological basis of autism remains poorly understood. The diagnosis of autism is based solely on behavioural characteristics because there are currently no reliable biological markers. To test whether the anterior pituitary hormones and cortisol could be useful as biological markers for autism, we assessed the basal serum levels of these hormones in subjects with autism and normal controls. Findings Using a suspension array system, we determined the serum levels of six anterior pituitary hormones, including adrenocorticotropic hormone and growth hormone, in 32 drug-naive subjects (aged 6 to 18 years, all boys) with autism, and 34 healthy controls matched for age and gender. We also determined cortisol levels in these subjects by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Serum levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone, growth hormone and cortisol were significantly higher in subjects with autism than in controls. In addition, there was a significantly positive correlation between cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone levels in autism. Conclusion Our results suggest that increased basal serum levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone accompanied by increased cortisol and growth hormone may be useful biological markers for autism.
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