Cerebrospinal fluid insulin-like growth factors IGF-1 and IGF-2 in infantile autism

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2006 Sep;48(9):751-5. doi: 10.1017/S0012162206001605.


There has been little exploration of major biologic regulators of cerebral development in autism. We measured insulin-like growth factors (IGF) -1 and -2 from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) by radio immunoassay in 25 children with autism (median age 5y 5mo; range 1y 11mo-15y 10mo; 20 males, 5 females), and in 16 age-matched comparison children without disability (median age 7y 4mo; range 1y 1mo-15y 2mo; eight males, eight females). IGF-1 and -2 concentrations were further correlated with age of patients and head size. CSF IGF-1 concentration was significantly lower in patients with autism than in the comparison group. The CSF concentrations of children with autism under 5 years of age were significantly lower than their age-matched comparisons. The head circumferences correlated with CSF IGF-1 in children with autism but no such correlation was found in the comparison group. There was no difference between the two groups in CSF IGF-2 concentrations. No patients with autism had macrocephaly. We conclude that low concentrations of CSF IGF-1 at an early age might be linked with the pathogenesis in autism because IGF-1 is important for the survival of Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. The head growth might be explained by the actions of IGF-1 and -2 reflected in CSF concentrations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autistic Disorder / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cell Survival
  • Cephalometry
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology
  • Reference Values


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II