New York: Researchers have identified two proteins that may help diagnose autism spectrum disorder (ASD), especially in boys, with 82 per cent accuracy.
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that is characterised by social interaction and communication challenges, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour.
The findings, led by researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, showed that measuring the levels of proteins, namely thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and interleukin-8 (IL-8) alone would vary from 74 to 76 per cent.
However, using both proteins together — which were previously identified as potential biomarkers in the blood — the diagnostic accuracy could increase up to 82 per cent, the researchers said.
For the study, published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, the team included 30 boys with ASD and 30 typically-developing boys, aged 2-8 years.
The results indicated that TSH levels were significantly lower in ASD boys, whereas IL-8 levels were significantly elevated, suggesting that TSH levels may be useful for assessing specific ASD phenotypes.
These data suggest that information on hormone status and inflammation together provides greater diagnostic accuracy for the identification of ASD, the researchers said.
“Autism is a very heterogeneous disorder, and if we can identify biomarkers for even a subgroup of autism patients, then that would be extremely helpful not only for early diagnosis but also for the development of therapeutics,” said Dwight C. German from the University of Texas.