Can the pathophysiology of autism be explained by the nature of the discovered urine peptides?

Nutr Neurosci. 2003 Feb;6(1):19-28. doi: 10.1080/1028415021000042839.


Opioid peptides derived from food proteins (exorphins) have been found in urine of autistic patients. Based on the work of several groups, we try to show that exorphins and serotonin uptake stimulating factors may explain many of the signs and symptoms seen in autistic disorders. The individual symptoms ought to be explainable by the properties and behavioural effects of the found peptides. The data presented form the basis of an autism model, where we suggest that exorphins and serotonin uptake modulators are key mediators for the development of autism. This may be due to a genetically based peptidase deficiency in at least two or more peptidases and, or of peptidase regulating proteins made manifest by a dietary overload of exorphin precursors such as by increased gut uptake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Autistic Disorder / urine*
  • Brain Diseases / complications
  • Diet
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Intestinal Diseases / complications
  • Peptides / urine*
  • Serotonin Agents
  • Sleep
  • Social Behavior
  • Stereotyped Behavior


  • Peptides
  • Serotonin Agents
  • exorphins