Novel metabolic biomarkers related to sulfur-dependent detoxification pathways in autistic patients of Saudi Arabia

BMC Neurol. 2011 Nov 4;11:139. doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-11-139.


Background: Xenobiotics are neurotoxins that dramatically alter the health of the child. In addition, an inefficient detoxification system leads to oxidative stress, gut dysbiosis, and immune dysfunction. The consensus among physicians who treat autism with a biomedical approach is that those on the spectrum are burdened with oxidative stress and immune problems. In a trial to understand the role of detoxification in the etiology of autism, selected parameters related to sulfur-dependent detoxification mechanisms in plasma of autistic children from Saudi Arabia will be investigated compared to control subjects.

Methods: 20 males autistic children aged 3-15 years and 20 age and gender matching healthy children as control group were included in this study. Levels of reduced glutathione (GSH), total (GSH+GSSG), glutathione status (GSH/GSSG), glutathione reductase (GR), glutathione- s-transferase (GST), thioredoxin (Trx), thioredoxin reductase (TrxR) and peroxidoxins (Prxs I and III) were determined.

Results: Reduced glutathione, total glutathione, GSH/GSSG and activity levels of GST were significantly lower, GR shows non-significant differences, while, Trx, TrxR and both Prx I and III recorded a remarkably higher values in autistics compared to control subjects.

Conclusion: The impaired glutathione status together with the elevated Trx and TrxR and the remarkable over expression of both Prx I and Prx III, could be used as diagnostic biomarkers of autism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autistic Disorder / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Glutathione / blood
  • Glutathione Reductase / blood
  • Glutathione Transferase / blood
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic*
  • Male
  • Peroxiredoxins / blood
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Sulfur / metabolism*
  • Thioredoxin-Disulfide Reductase / blood
  • Thioredoxins / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Thioredoxins
  • Sulfur
  • Peroxiredoxins
  • Glutathione Reductase
  • Thioredoxin-Disulfide Reductase
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Glutathione