Biomarkers for autism discovered

March 26, 2012

Crystal structure of complement protein C3 (C3b/A/1) with location of C3f domain, in structure model from PyMol (credit: DeLano Scientific LLC).

Researchers at Berzelii Centre and the Science for Life Laboratory in Uppsala University and Linnaeus University in Sweden and the Faculty of Medicine in Tehran, Iran have identified a protein in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The researchers performed a detailed protein analysis of blood plasma from children with ASD compared with a control group. Using advanced mass spectrometric methods, they succeeded in identifying peptides consisting of fragments of the complement factor C3 protein, whose natural function is in the immune system.

There is already a known connection between this protein and ASD, which further reinforces the findings, says Jonas Bergquist, professor of analytical chemistry and neurochemistry at the Department of Chemistry, at the BMC (Biomedical Center) in Uppsala.

The hope is that this new set of biomarkers ultimately will lead to a reliable blood-based diagnostic tool.

Ref.: N Momeni et al., A novel blood-based biomarker for detection of autism spectrum disorders, Nature Translational Psychiatry, 2012 [DOI: 10.1038/tp.2012.19] (open access)