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Brain Dev. 2004 Aug;26(5):292-5.

Serum neurotrophin concentrations in autism and mental retardation: a pilot study.

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Neurobiology Laboratory, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8575, Japan.


To evaluate the availability of the serum neurotrophins for the diagnosis of the patients with neurodevelopmental disorder, we measured the serum concentration of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-4 (NT-4) in the patients diagnosed with autism (n=18) and mental retardation (n=20), or healthy controls (n=16), using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. There tended to be a higher concentration of serum BDNF found in the autistic group ( P <0.05 by analysis of variance (ANOVA)) and the mental retardation group ( P <0.001 by ANOVA) compared to the control group. Serum NT-4 concentration tended to be increased in the mental retardation group (P <0.05 by ANOVA). We conclude that measuring the serum concentration of two neurotrophins, BDNF and NT-4, might be helpful to diagnose or classify disorders such as autism or mental retardation.

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