Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder of unknown origin that manifests in early childhood. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) refer to a broader group of neurobiological conditions, pervasive developmental disorders. Despite several arguments for a strong genetic contribution, the molecular basis in most cases remains unexplained. Several studies have reported an association between ASDs and mutations in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) molecule. In order to confirm these causative relationship, we screened 21 individuals with idiopathic ASDs for a number of the most common mtDNA mutations. We identified two patients with candidate mutations: m.6852G>A that produces an amino acid change of glycine to serine in the MT-CO1 gene and m.8033A>G (Ile→Val) in the MT-CO2 gene. Overall, these findings support the notion that mitochondrial mutations are associated with ASDs. Additional studies are needed to further define the role of mitochondrial defects in the pathogenesis of autism.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs); Genetic testing; Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations.