An Investigation of the Dynamic Thiol/Disulfide Homeostasis, As a Novel Oxidative Stress Plasma Biomarker, in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Res. 2021 Mar;14(3):473-487. doi: 10.1002/aur.2436. Epub 2020 Nov 19.

Abstract

We aimed to investigate the role of impaired oxidant-antioxidant homeostasis on the etiopathogenesis of autism with a novel oxidative stress (OS) marker, dynamic thiol/disulfide homeostasis (DTDH), and relationship between the symptom severity and markers. A total of 60 children with ASD aged 3-10 years and 54 unaffected children were investigated for the plasma DTDH parameters. A sociodemographic-data form, K-SADS-PL, Childhood Autism Rating Scale, Abnormal Behavior Checklist, Autism Behavior Checklist, and a developmentally appropriate IQ test were administered to all participants. Distortion of DTDH to the OS-side in the autism group was determined with lower plasma levels of native and total thiol, in contrast to a higher disulfide and thiol oxidation-reduction ratio. However, biomarkers had no correlation with the symptom severity of autism. Cutoff values for each parameter on the ROC curve might be useful to predict ASD and each DTDH biomarker was detected as an independent predictor of ASD. The present study demonstrated a disturbed redox status and absence of an expected compensatory increase in antioxidant response in a pediatric sample of ASD by measuring dynamic oxidation/reduction shifts with a novel, practical and reproducible analytical technique, and contributes to data regarding oxidative hypothesis on autism and raises the question of the place of antioxidants in autism treatment. Our results may suggest predictive usefulness of the plasma DTDH biomarkers in ASD, despite the study being conducted with a modestly small sample size that makes further research with a larger replication sample necessary to substantiate the findings. LAY SUMMARY: Dynamic thiol/disulfide homeostasis is a novel plasma marker used to determine the oxidative stress which is a natural result of disequilibrium between the oxidants and antioxidants in the human body. There is increasing interest regarding a central biological linking role of oxidative stress among the other etiological factors of autism. Our findings on the disturbed plasma dynamic thiol/disulfide homeostasis in children with autism and the absence of an expected antioxidant response against increased oxidative stress supports the data concerning the role of oxidative stress on the etiology of autism and the need of further research on the place of antioxidants in autism treatment.

Keywords: antioxidants; autism spectrum disorders; dynamic thiol/disulfide homeostasis; oxidant-antioxidant equilibrium; oxidative stress.