The following is a summary of the “Analysis of salivary steroid hormones in boys with autism spectrum disorder,” published in the February 2022 issue of Psychiatry by He, et al.

ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition with high prevalence and a difficult diagnosis. This study examined salivary cortisol, DHEA, and pregnenolone as biomarkers for ASD children.

About 55 boys with ASD comprised the experimental group, and 24 neurotypical boys were the control group. Boys with ASD were assessed using the CBCL, ABC, SRS, and RBS. ABSSCIEX QTRAP® 6500 + LC/MS/MS assessed saliva cortisol, DHEA, and pregnenolone concentrations. SPSS 23.0 analyzed data. 

T-tests were used to compare the 2 normal-distributed groups, whereas Mann–Whitney U tests were used for the other 2. Spearman’s correlation analysis correlated 2 variables. ROC analysis assessed each hormone’s discriminating sensitivity between ASD and normal control groups. Logistic regression models examined DHEA and salivary pregnenolone as ASD biomarkers. ASD and control groups had similar ages and weights. The ASD group had considerably higher ABC, SRS, RBS, and CBCL scale scores. 

The ASD group had higher salivary DHEA and pregnenolone levels than the normal control group, but cortisol levels were similar.  Only pregnenolone correlated with ABC in Spearman’s analysis. Logistic regression showed that salivary pregnenolone predicted ASD independently. Pregnenolone distinguished ASD from normal controls well in ROC analysis. Although cases are confined to this high anticipation, the salivary preoperative biomarker was allowed.