Lower cortisol and higher ACTH levels in individuals with autism

J Autism Dev Disord. 2003 Aug;33(4):443-8. doi: 10.1023/a:1025019030121.

Abstract

Blood concentrations of pituitary hormones adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), prolactin, growth hormone, and adrenal hormone-cortisol were measured in 36 autistic and 27 control individuals. Individuals with autism had significantly lower serum concentrations of cortisol (p < 10(-6)), and significantly higher concentrations of ACTH (p = 0.002) than control age- and sex-matched subjects. Also, prolactin concentrations in autistic patients with epilepsy were significantly higher when compared with normal subjects. The observed hormonal changes may indicate dysfunction of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in individuals with autism.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood*
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology*
  • Intelligence / physiology
  • Male
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology*
  • Prolactin / blood

Substances

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Hydrocortisone