Fatty acid compositions of red blood cell phospholipids in children with autism

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2006 Apr;74(4):215-21. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2006.02.001.


We compared the compositions of fatty acids including n-3, n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, trans- and cis-monounsaturated fatty acids, and saturated fatty acids in the red blood cell membranes of 40 children with autism (20 with early onset autism and 20 with developmental regression) and age-matched, 20 typically developing controls and 20 subjects with non-autistic developmental disabilities. The main findings include increased levels of eicosenoic acid (20:1n9) and erucic acid (22:1n9) in autistic subjects with developmental regression when compared with typically developing controls. In addition, an increase in 20:2n6 and a decrease in 16:1n7t were observed in children with clinical regression compared to those with early onset autism. Our results do not provide strong evidence for the hypothesis that abnormal fatty acid metabolism plays a role in the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder, although they suggest some metabolic or dietary abnormalities in the regressive form of autism.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / blood*
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child, Preschool
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Fatty Acids / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Phospholipids / chemistry*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Phospholipids