A prospective blinded evaluation of urinary porphyrins verses the clinical severity of autism spectrum disorders

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2009;72(24):1585-91. doi: 10.1080/15287390903232475.


A prospective, blinded study evaluated the relationship between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) severity measured by Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) scores and urinary porphyrins among a cohort of participants (n = 26). LabCorp (CLIA-approved) tested for uroporphyrins, heptacarboxylporphyrins, hexacarboxylporphyrins, pentacarboxylporphyrins, coproporphyrin (cP) I, and cP III levels. Participants with severe ASD had significantly increased cP I, cP III, and total cP levels in comparison to participants with mild ASD. A significant correlation was observed between increasing cP levels and CARS scores. Significant correlations were also noted for comparative urinary porphyrin testing between LabCorp and the Laboratoire Philippe Auguste (ISO-approved) for total cP. Finally, total cP measured at LabCorp was found to significantly correlate with precoproporphryin (a specific porphyrin marker for mercury toxicity) measured at the Laboratoire Philippe Auguste. Since urinary porphyrin testing is clinically available, relatively inexpensive, and noninvasive, it may be used to help suggest whether heavy metal toxicity is associated with ASD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / physiopathology*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / urine*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mercury / metabolism
  • Mercury / toxicity
  • Mercury / urine
  • Metals, Heavy / metabolism
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity*
  • Metals, Heavy / urine*
  • Porphyrins / classification
  • Porphyrins / metabolism
  • Porphyrins / urine*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Biomarkers
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Porphyrins
  • Mercury