Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Autism

Published December 1, 2010 in Journal of the American Medical Association, Giulivi et al

Children with autism are far more likely to have deficits in their ability to produce cellular energy than are typically developing children. While the study is small (10 test subjects) and requires replication, it furthers previous research which has revealed hints of a mitochondrial dysfunction/autism connection. The researchers found that mitochondria from children with autism consumed less oxygen than mitochondria from the group of control children. For example, the oxygen consumption of one mitochondrial enzyme complex, NADH oxidase, in autistic children was only 33% of that found in control children. While Giulivi cautions that this study has not found the cause of autism, she states that it "…furthers the understanding of autism on several fronts and may, if replicated, be used to help physicians diagnose the problem earlier."

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