Geier DA, et al, Biomarkers of environmental toxicity and susceptibility in autism, J Neurol Sci (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jns.2008.08.021
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may result from a combination of genetic/biochemical susceptibilities in the form of a reduced ability to excrete mercury and/or increased environmental exposure at key developmental times. Urinary porphyrins and transsulfuration metabolites in participants diagnosed with an ASD were examined. A prospective, blinded study was undertaken to evaluate a cohort of 28 participants with an ASD diagnosis for Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) scores, urinary porphyrins, and transsulfuration metabolites. Testing was conducted using Vitamin Diagnostics, Inc. (CLIA-approved) and Laboratoire Philippe Auguste (ISO-approved). Participants with severe ASDs had significantly increased mercury intoxication-associated urinary porphyrins (pentacarboxyporphyrin, precoproporphyrin, and coproporphyrin) in comparison to participants with mild ASDs, whereas other urinary porphyrins were similar in both groups. Significantly decreased plasma levels of reduced glutathione (GSH), cysteine, and sulfate were observed among study participants relative to controls. In contrast, study participants had significantly increased plasma oxidized glutathione (GSSG) relative to controls. Mercury intoxication associated urinary porphyrins were significantly correlated with increasing CARS scores and GSSG levels, whereas other urinary porphyrins did not show these relationships. The urinary porphyrin and CARS score correlations observed among study participants suggest that mercury intoxication is significantly associated with autistic symptoms. The transsulfuration abnormalities observed among study participants indicate that mercury intoxication was associated with increased oxidative stress and decreased detoxification capacity.