Background: Autism is among the commonest neurodevelopmental childhood disorders worldwide; its aetiology is still unknown. Iron metabolism alteration in the central nervous system is recently implicated as a risk factor for several neurodegenerative disorders. Haemochromatosis HFE gene polymorphisms (p.H63D and p.C282Y) have shown significant association with several neurological diseases. Some evidences show altered iron related proteins in serum of autistic children. The aim of this work is to conduct a preliminary pilot study for the association of HFE polymorphisms and autism.
Methods: All cases were referred from the clinic of special needs, National Research Centre, Cairo. Clinical diagnosis was based on the criteria for autistic disorder as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). Whole genome DNA was extracted; p.H63D and p.C282Y genotyping was studied using specific sequence amplification followed by restriction enzyme digestion on a sample of autism patients (25 cases) and twenty controls.
Results: The p.H63D is more abundant than the C282Y among both autism and control samples. No significant association of p.H63D nor p.C282Y polymorphism and autism was revealed.
Conclusion: We here report on the first pilot study of the possible genetic association between autism and HFE gene polymorphisms among Egyptians. Although our results do not prove the role of HFE polymorphisms as risk factors for autism, yet this does not exclude the role of iron in this prevalent disorder. Further extended studies are recommended to include other iron metabolism genes.