Biomarkers for Autism Spectrum Disorder Identified in New Study

A blood test may help accurately predict autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children, according to the findings of a recent study.

The study included blood samples from 30 boys with ASD and 30 typically-developing (TD) boys from 2 to 8 years of age, which were assessed using the Rules-Based Medicine (RMB) platform. Blood samples from an additional group of 13 boys with ASD and 9 TD boys were included in subsequent analyses and assessed using the Meso Scale Discovery (MSD) platform.

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Eleven proteins were found that, when together, could confirm ASD with modest accuracy when using multiple training and test sets, and 2 were further tested using a different detection platform and larger sample of boys with ASD and TD boys.

The researchers also found that thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were significantly lower and interleukin-8 (IL-8) levels were significantly higher among boys with ASD compared with boys without ASD. Both hormones had been identified in previously studies as potential biomarkers of ASD.

Overall, the diagnostic accuracy of ASD using TSH or IL-8 levels alone varied from 74% to 76%, however both proteins together increased the diagnostic accuracy to 82%.

“These data suggest that information on hormone status and inflammation together provide greater diagnostic accuracy for the identification of ASD,” the researchers concluded.

—Melissa Weiss


Singh S, Yazdani U, Gadad B, et al. Serum thyroid-stimulating hormone and interleukin-8 levels in boys with autism spectrum disorder [published June 2, 2017]. Journal of Neuroinflammation. doi:10.1186/s12974-017-0888-4.