Saliva nitrite is higher in male children with autism spectrum disorder and positively correlated with serum nitrate

Redox Rep. 2021 Dec;26(1):124-133. doi: 10.1080/13510002.2021.1959133.


Objectives: Nitric oxide (NO) plays a vital role in neurological development. As an easily accessible and non-invasive fluid, saliva hasn't been evaluated for nitrite among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study aims to quantify saliva nitrite and explore its relation with serum NO.

Methods: Saliva sampling and pretreatment methods were optimized, followed by NO measurement via chemiluminescence for 126 ASD children and 129 normally developing children (ND).

Results: In the ASD group, saliva nitrite was significantly higher than that in the ND, with concentrations of 4.97 ± 3.77 μM and 2.66 ± 2.07 μM (p < 0.0001), respectively. Positive correlation was observed between saliva NO2- and serum NO3- in ASD children, which didn't exist in the ND group. Male children in the ASD group had significantly higher NO than that in boys of the ND group, without significant difference between girls in both groups. Correlation was not found between saliva or serum NO and severity of these ASD children.

Discussion: It is reported for the first time that saliva nitrite was positively correlated with serum nitrate in ASD children, with significantly higher NO only in autistic boys. Non-invasive saliva might serve as a predictor of health status of ASD children.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; nitrate; nitric oxide; nitrite; saliva; serum.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrates
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitrites*
  • Saliva


  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Nitric Oxide

Grant support

This work was funded by Hubei Provincial Department of Education Startup Grant 337/370 (Jun Wang).