Protein Nutrition in Autism

Adv Neurobiol. 2020:24:573-586. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-30402-7_20.


Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a "developmental disorder" because symptoms generally appear in the first 2 years of life. The primary cause of autism is still not clear and therapy is currently restricted to controlling behavioral abnormalities. However, emerging studies have shown a link between mitochondrial dysfunction and autism. Dietary supplements that promote mitochondrial biogenesis and inhibit the production of oxidative stress have been used to treat autism patients. Dietary adjustments in treating autism is a novel approach to suppress autistic symptoms. Supplementation with antioxidants has been found to not only inhibit cognitive decline but also improve behavioral symptoms in autism. Dietary supplements fortified with vitamins should only be given under the supervision of a physician. A wide range of nutraceuticals are under clinical trials to understand whether they physiologically target mitochondrial pathways and improve the quality of life in autism.

Keywords: ASD; Amino acids; Autism; Dietary therapy; Gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet; Malabsorption; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Nutritional imbalance; Peptides; Protein maldigestion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / diet therapy*
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism
  • Autistic Disorder / pathology
  • Diet Therapy*
  • Dietary Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Quality of Life


  • Dietary Proteins