Decreased serum levels of transforming growth factor-beta1 in patients with autism

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Jan 30;31(1):187-90. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2006.08.020. Epub 2006 Oct 6.


Background: The neurobiological basis for autism remains poorly understood. Given the key role of transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) in brain development, we hypothesized that TGF-beta1 plays a role in the pathophysiology of autism. In this study, we studied whether serum levels of TGF-beta1 are altered in patients with autism.

Methods: We measured serum levels of TGF-beta1 in 19 male adult patients with autism and 21 age-matched male healthy subjects using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

Results: The serum levels (7.34+/-5.21 ng/mL (mean+/-S.D.)) of TGF-beta1 in the patients with autism were significantly (z=-5.106, p<0.001) lower than those (14.48+/-1.64 ng/mL (mean+/-S.D.)) of normal controls. However, there were no marked or significant correlations between serum TGF-beta1 levels and other clinical variables, including Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) scores, Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), aggression, Theory of Mind, and Intellectual Quotient (IQ) in patients.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that decreased levels of TGF-beta1 may be implicated in the pathophysiology of autism.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder / blood*
  • Compulsive Personality Disorder
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / blood*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1