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Horm Res. 2006;66(4):182-8. Epub 2006 Jul 5.

A clinical and laboratory evaluation of methionine cycle-transsulfuration and androgen pathway markers in children with autistic disorders.

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  • 1The Genetic Centers of America, Silver Spring, MD, USA.



The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is 1 in 300 children in the US. ASDs are characterized by impairments in social relatedness and communication, repetitive behaviors, abnormal movement patterns, and sensory dysfunction. Pre-pubertal age children with ASDs were assessed for metabolites in the methionine cycle-transsulfuration and androgen pathways, and for present physical development/behaviors indicative of hyperandrogenicity.


The Institutional Review Board of the Institute for Chronic Illnesses (Office for Human Research Protections, US Department of Health and Human Services IRB number: IRB00005375) approved the present study. Sixteen consecutive pre-pubertal age children (</=11 years old; mean +/- SD: 5.9 +/- 2.1 years old) with previously diagnosed ASDs that presented to the Genetic Centers of America for outpatient care were evaluated.


Significantly (p < 0.01) increased levels of serum/plasma dehydroepiandrosterone and serum total testosterone relative to the age- and sex-specific normal laboratory reference ranges were observed. Conversely, serum follicle-stimulating hormone levels were significantly (p < 0.01) decreased. Plasma-reduced glutathione (p < 0.01), plasma cysteine (p < 0.01), plasma methionine (p < 0.01), serum cystathionine (p < 0.05), and serum homocysteine (p < 0.01) were all significantly decreased.


The results suggest a possible cyclical interaction between the methionine cycle-transsulfuration and androgen pathways in some children with ASDs.

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