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Biomark Insights. 2015 Oct 14;10:89-94. doi: 10.4137/BMI.S21946. eCollection 2015.

Decreased Phosphorylated Protein Kinase B (Akt) in Individuals with Autism Associated with High Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) and Low Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA).

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Department of Biology, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY, USA. ; Pfeiffer Medical Center, Health Research Institute, Warrenville, IL, USA.


Dysregulation of the PI3K/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway could contribute to the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders. In this study, phosphorylated Akt concentration was measured in 37 autistic children and 12, gender and age similar neurotypical, controls using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Akt levels were compared to biomarkers known to be associated with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and c-Met (hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) receptor) pathways and severity levels of 19 autism-related symptoms. We found phosphorylated Akt levels significantly lower in autistic children and low Akt levels correlated with high EGFR and HGF and low gamma-aminobutyric acid, but not other biomarkers. Low Akt levels also correlated significantly with increased severity of receptive language, conversational language, hypotonia, rocking and pacing, and stimming, These results suggest a relationship between decreased phosphorylated Akt and selected symptom severity in autistic children and support the suggestion that the AKT pathways may be associated with the etiology of autism.


Akt; EGF; EGFR; HGF; autism; symptom severity

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