Peripheral Biomarkers in Autism: Secreted Amyloid Precursor Protein-Alpha as a Probably Key Player in Early Diagnosis

Published October 15, 2008 in Inter. Journal Clinical Exp. Medicine, Bailey, Giunta, et al

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by impairments in socialization and communication. There is currently no single molecular marker or laboratory tool capable of diagnosing autism at an early age. The purpose of this study is to explore the plausible use of peripheral biomarkers in the early diagnosis of autism via a sensitive ELISA. Here, we measured plasma secreted amyloid precursor protein alpha (sAPP-alpha) levels in autistic and aged-matched control blood samples and found a significantly increased level of sAPP-alpha in 60% of the known autistic children. We then tested 150 human umbilical cord blood (HUCB) samples and found significantly elevated levels of plasma sAPP-alpha in 10 of 150 samples. As an additional confirmatory measure, we performed Western blot analysis on these samples which consistently showed increased sAPP-alpha levels in autistic children and 10 of 150 HUCB samples; suggesting a group of autistic patients which could be identified in early childhood by levels of sAPP-alpha. While there is need for further studies of this concept, the measurement of sAPP-alpha levels in serum and human umbilical cord blood by ELISA is a potential tool for early diagnosis of autism

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