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Open AccessArticle

Inflammatory Biomarkers are Correlated with Some Forms of Regressive Autism Spectrum Disorder

IRCCS Fondazione Stella Maris, Calambrone, 56128 Pisa, Italy
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Institute of Clinical Physiology, CNR, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry Unit, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Cagliari & “Antonio Cao” Paediatric Hospital, “G. Brotzu” Hospital trust, 09124 Cagliari, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(12), 366;
Received: 12 November 2019 / Revised: 6 December 2019 / Accepted: 9 December 2019 / Published: 11 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
Background: Several studies have tried to investigate the role of inflammatory biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and their correlations with clinical phenotypes. Despite the growing research in this topic, existing data are mostly contradictory. Methods: Eighty-five ASD preschoolers were assessed for developmental level, adaptive functioning, gastrointestinal (GI), socio-communicative and psychopathological symptoms. Plasma levels of leptin, resistin, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), macrophage chemoattractant protein-1 (CCL2), tumor necrosis factor-alfa (TNF-α), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were correlated with clinical scores and were compared among different ASD subgroups according to the presence or absence of: (i) GI symptoms, (ii) regressive onset of autism. Results: Proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6 and CCL2) were lower than those reported in previous studies in children with systemic inflammatory conditions. GI symptoms were not correlated with levels of inflammatory biomarkers except for resistin that was lower in ASD-GI children (p = 0.032). Resistin and PAI-1 levels were significantly higher in the group with “regression plus a developmental delay” onset (Reg+DD group) compared to groups without regression or with regression without a developmental delay (p < 0.01 for all). Conclusions: Our results did not highlight the presence of any systemic inflammatory state in ASD subjects neither disentangling children with/without GI symptoms. The Reg + DD group significantly differed from others in some plasmatic values, but these differences failed to discriminate the subgroups as possible distinct ASD endo-phenotypes. View Full-Text
Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; regression; cytokines; PAI-1; neuroinflammation; gastrointestinal autism spectrum disorder; regression; cytokines; PAI-1; neuroinflammation; gastrointestinal
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Prosperi, M.; Guiducci, L.; Peroni, D.G.; Narducci, C.; Gaggini, M.; Calderoni, S.; Tancredi, R.; Morales, M.A.; Gastaldelli, A.; Muratori, F.; Santocchi, E. Inflammatory Biomarkers are Correlated with Some Forms of Regressive Autism Spectrum Disorder. Brain Sci. 2019, 9, 366.

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