The use of data independent acquisition based proteomic analysis and machine learning to reveal potential biomarkers for autism spectrum disorder

J Proteomics. 2023 Apr 30:278:104872. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2023.104872. Epub 2023 Mar 8.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurological developmental disorder in children, and is associated with social isolation and restricted interests. The etiology of this disorder is still unknown. There is neither any confirmed laboratory test nor any effective therapeutic strategy to diagnose or cure it. We performed data independent acquisition (DIA) and multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) analysis of plasma from children with ASD and controls. The result showed that 45 differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) were identified between autistic subjects and controls. Among these, only one DEP was down-regulated in ASD; other DEPs were up-regulated in ASD children's plasma. These proteins are found associated with complement and coagulation cascades, vitamin digestion and absorption, cholesterol metabolism, platelet degranulation, selenium micronutrient network, extracellular matrix organization and inflammatory pathway, which have been reported to be related to ASD. After MRM verification, five key proteins in complement pathway (PLG, SERPINC1, and A2M) and inflammatory pathway (CD5L, ATRN, SERPINC1, and A2M) were confirmed to be significantly up-regulated in ASD group. Through the screening of machine learning model and MRM verification, we found that two proteins (biotinidase and carbonic anhydrase 1) can be used as early diagnostic markers of ASD (AUC = 0.8, p = 0.0001). SIGNIFICANCE: ASD is the fastest growing neurodevelopmental disorder in the world and has become a major public health problem worldwide. Its prevalence has been steadily increasing, with a global prevalence rate of 1%. Early diagnosis and intervention can achieve better prognosis. In this study, data independent acquisition (DIA) and multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) analysis was applied to analyze the plasma proteome of ASD patients (31 (±5) months old), and 378 proteins were quantified. 45 differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) were identified between the ASD group and the control group. They mainly were associated with platelet degranulation, ECM proteoglycar, complement and coagulation cascades, selenium micronutrient network, regulation of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) transport and uptake by insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs), cholesterol metabolism, vitamin metabolism, and inflammatory pathway. Through the integrated machine learning methods and the MRM verification of independent samples, it is considered that biotinidase and carbon anhydrase 1 have the potential to become biomarkers for the early diagnosis of ASD. These results complement proteomics database of the ASD patients, broaden our understanding of ASD, and provide a panel of biomarkers for the early diagnosis of ASD.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Biomarker; Complement; Data independent acquisition; Machine learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biotinidase
  • Child
  • Cholesterol
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Proteomics
  • Selenium*
  • Vitamins


  • Biotinidase
  • Selenium
  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamins
  • Cholesterol