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Autism and Vitamin D – 3 biomarkers found so far – March 2018

In the search for reliable biomarkers for the early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder: the role of vitamin D

Metabolic Brain Disease, pp 1–15, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11011-018-0199-1
Afaf El-Ansary John J. Cannell Geir Bjørklund, Ramesa Shafi Bhat Abeer M. Al Dbass Hanan A. Alfawaz Salvatore Chirumbolo Laila Al-Ayadhi


Autism treated by Vitamin D: Dr. Cannell - video June 2013 includes many reasons why he believes Autism is related to Vitamin D

  1. Both have strong inheritance features – Vitamin D about 60%
  2. Both have gotten substantially worse in last 30 years
  3. Vitamin D is known to be involved in brain development
  4. All autistic children are VitD deficient, but not all children who are deficient are autistic: genes are involved
  5. When giving vitamin D to cure children of rickets “mental dullness” decreases as well
  6. Children with genes which give them too much (Williams Syndrome) have to reverse of autism – too sociable
  7. Mothers having lots of fish (and thus more vitamin D) give birth to kids with less autistic symptoms
  8. Both associated with weak bones
  9. Both worse around the age of weaning
  10. Autism is more common in rich families – more likely to apply sun screen and stay indoors
  11. Autism increases with drugs which lower levels of vitamin D
  12. Seizures are common with Autism - Vitamin D has been shown to reduce seizures
  13. Fewer autistic symptoms (such as sleep problems) during summer: when child gets more vitamin D from the sun
  14. Both worse with latitude
  15. Both vary with Ultraviolet light
  16. Both vary with time of year (more birth of autistics in March in Northern hemisphere)
  17. 2X more urban autism – less UVB in urban environments
  18. Both worse with pollution
  19. Both worse with increased clouds and rain
  20. Both worse with closely spaced pregnancies
  21. Autistics have abnormal immune response – similar to that of vitamin D deficiency
  22. Low levels of vitamin D in mother animals reduces brain function in offspring
  23. Vitamin deficient rat pups have similar brain abnormalities to that of human autistic children
  24. Autistic children get less vitamin D in their blood for the same amount of sun exposure
  25. The 4 males/1 female ratio - Note estrogen increases vitamin D in the brain (testosterone does not)
  26. Both worse in African Americans (A-A 2-3 increased autism rate)
  27. Both worse in Dark-skinned immigrants in Europe

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects about 1% of the world’s population. Vitamin D is thought to be essential for normal brain development and modulation of the immune system. Worldwide about 1 billion people are affected by vitamin D deficiency.

  • High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP),
  • cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) and
  • 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG)

are biomarkers related to inflammation and oxidative stress. In the present study, these biomarkers were together with serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D3) analyzed in 28 (mean age seven years) Saudi male patients with ASD. The study was conducted to determine if there is any relationship between vitamin D levels, the tested biomarkers and the presence and severity of ASD. The hope was to identify if these biomarkers may be useful for early ASD diagnosis. The Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) and the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) were used to measure autism severity.
The results of the ASD children were compared with 27 age and gender-matched neurotypical controls. The data indicated that Saudi patients with ASD have significantly lower plasma levels of 25(OH)D3 than neurotypical controls (38 ng/ml compared to 56 ng/ml, respectively; [P = 0.001]).
Surprisingly, the levels of CYP2E1 were lower in the children with ASD than the neurotypical controls (0.48 ± 0.08 vs. 69 ± 0.07 ng/ml, respectively; P = 0.001).
The ASD children also had significantly higher levels of hs-CRP (0.79 ± 0.09 vs. 0.59 ± 0.09 ng/ml, respectively; P = 0.001) and 8- OH-dG (8.17 ± 1.04 vs. 4.13 ± 1.01 ng/ml, respectively; P = 0.001, compared to neurotypical age and gender-matched controls.
The values for hs-CRP and 8- OH-dG did not correlate [P < 0.001] with autism severity.

There was found a relationship between autism severity on the CARS scale and the levels of 25(OH)D3 and CYP1B1. But this was not found for SRS. All four biomarkers seemed to have good sensitivity and specificity, but the sample size of the present study was too small to determine clinical usefulness. The findings also indicate that inadequate levels of vitamin D play a role in the etiology and severity of autism.

Furthermore, the results of the present study suggest the possibility of using 25(OH)D3, CYP1B1, hs-CRP and 8- OH-dG, preferably in combination, as biomarkers for the early diagnosis of ASD. However, further research is needed to evaluate this hypothesis.

Acknowledgements: This research project was supported by a grant from the Research Center of the Center for Female Scientific and Medical Colleges at King Saud University.

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