In this study, we aimed to measure the plasma concentration of NLGN4 in children with autism compared to matched healthy controls, and to examine a possible correlation between the plasma NLGN4 level and the degree of severity of autism, and social impairment in the autistic patients.
In this study, 88 autistic patients aged 3-12 years and 33 age and sex-matched controls aged 3-9 years were recruited. Plasma NLGN4 concentration was determined using a commercial enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA). The Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) and the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) were used to assess the cognitive dysfunction and social impairment in autistic patients.
The NLGN4 plasma concentration was significantly higher (P=0.001) in autistic children (12 ±5.35 ng/ml) in comparison with healthy controls (6.82 ±5.52 ng/ml). In spite of the alteration in the level of NLGN4 among the subgroups of autistic children, no correlation between NLGN4 plasma level and cognitive problem, or social impairment was observed (p > 0.05).
Increased plasma concentration of NLGN4 may play a role in the pathogenesis of autism, and it could be a valuable biomarker for autism. Further studies with larger sample size are warranted to validate this finding, and also to explore the potential links between NLGN4 and features of autism.

© 2020 The Author(s). Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.