Proteins present in the saliva may be able to serve as biomarkers for autism, according to Clarkson University researchers.
As it reports in Autism Research, the team led by Clarkson's Alisa Woods used a nanoliquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry approach to analyze the salivary proteome of six individuals with autism spectrum disorders and compare it to the salivary proteome of neurotypical controls. In this pilot effort, they found that nine salivary proteins differed between the two groups, including lactotransferrin, prolactin-inducible protein, statherin, histatin 1, and more.
"We have identified potential biomarkers for autism diagnosis that are implicated in both heightened immune responses and gastrointestinal distress," Woods tells Medscape Medical News. "This is consistent with current ideas about autism cause and comorbidities."
The researchers note that the study was small and remains to be tested in a larger group as well as in ASD subtypes.
Matthew Siegel from the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, who was not involved in the study, tells Medscape Medical News that "examining saliva is attractive due to its accessibility, but will need to be tested in much larger samples to see if there are useful results."