Reduced serum concentrations of 25-hydroxy vitamin D in children with autism: relation to autoimmunity

J Neuroinflammation. 2012 Aug 17;9:201. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-9-201.


Background: Aside from the skeletal health affection, vitamin D deficiency has been implicated as a potential environmental factor triggering for some autoimmune disorders. Vitamin D might play a role in the regulation of the production of auto-antibodies. Immunomodulatory effects of vitamin D may act not only through modulation of T-helper cell function, but also through induction of CD4(+)CD25(high) regulatory T-cells. We are the first to investigate the relationship between serum levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D and anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein (anti-MAG) auto-antibodies in autistic children.

Methods: Serum levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D and anti-MAG auto-antibodies were measured in 50 autistic children, aged between 5 and 12 years, and 30 healthy-matched children. Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels 10-30 ng/mL and < 10 ng/mL were defined as vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency, respectively.

Results: Autistic children had significantly lower serum levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D than healthy children (P < 0.001) with 40% and 48% being vitamin D deficient and insufficient, respectively. Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D had significant negative correlations with Childhood Autism Rating Scale (P < 0.001). Increased levels of serum anti-MAG auto-antibodies were found in 70% of autistic patients. Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels had significant negative correlations with serum levels of anti-MAG auto-antibodies (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Vitamin D deficiency was found in some autistic children and this deficiency may contribute to the induction of the production of serum anti-MAG auto-antibodies in these children. However, future studies looking at a potential role of vitamin D in the pathophysiology and treatment of autism are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / blood*
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / pathology
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoimmune Diseases / blood*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myelin-Associated Glycoprotein / immunology
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / immunology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / pathology*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers
  • MAG protein, human
  • Myelin-Associated Glycoprotein
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D