Central arginine vasopressin (AVP) plays a critical role in mammalian social behavior and has been hypothesized to be a biomarker of certain human neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism. However, opportunities to collect post-mortem brain tissue or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from children are extremely limited, and the use of less invasive peripheral assessments (e.g., blood, urine, or saliva) of AVP as a proxy for more invasive central measures has not been well validated. Further, almost nothing is known about AVP biology in very young infants. Therefore in the present study we concomitantly collected basal CSF and plasma samples from N = 20 neonates undergoing clinical sepsis evaluation (all were sepsis negative) and quantified AVP concentrations via well-validated enzyme-immunoassay methodology. Plasma AVP concentrations significantly and positively predicted CSF AVP concentrations (r = 0.73, p = 0.0021), and this relationship persisted when variance attributed to sex, gestational age, and sample collection time was controlled for in the statistical model (r = 0.75, p = 0.0047). These findings provide preliminary support for the use of basal plasma AVP measurement as a proxy for basal brain AVP activity in pediatric populations. Future studies are now required to determine the relationship between behavioral measures and AVP concentrations in both central and peripheral compartments in young infants and older children.
Keywords: Arginine vasopressin; Cerebrospinal fluid; Human neonate; Lumbar puncture; Oxytocin; Plasma.
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