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Pediatr Res. 2011 May;69(5 Pt 2):41R-7R. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e318212f16b.

Mitochondrial dysfunction can connect the diverse medical symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, The Children's Learning Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas 77030, USA. richard.e.frye@uth.tmc.edu

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder. Over the past decade, evidence has emerged that some children with ASD suffer from undiagnosed comorbid medical conditions. One of the medical disorders that has been consistently associated with ASD is mitochondrial dysfunction. Individuals with mitochondrial disorders without concomitant ASD manifest dysfunction in multiple high-energy organ systems, such as the central nervous, muscular, and gastrointestinal (GI) systems. Interestingly, these are the identical organ systems affected in a significant number of children with ASD. This finding increases the possibility that mitochondrial dysfunction may be one of the keys that explains the many diverse symptoms observed in some children with ASD. This article will review the importance of mitochondria in human health and disease, the evidence for mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD, the potential role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the comorbid medical conditions associated with ASD, and how mitochondrial dysfunction can bridge the gap for understanding how these seemingly disparate medical conditions are related. We also review the limitations of this evidence and other possible explanations for these findings. This new understanding of ASD should provide researchers a pathway for understanding the etiopathogenesis of ASD and clinicians the potential to develop medical therapies.

PMID:
21289536
PMCID:
PMC3179978
DOI:
10.1203/PDR.0b013e318212f16b
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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