Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of neurodevelopmental disorders defined by a deficit in social interactions and the presence of restricted and stereotypical behaviors or interests. The etiologies of autism remain mostly unknown. Many genetic and environmental factors have been suspected. Among these environmental factors, exposure to several chemical elements has been previously studied. The purpose of this study was to compare the levels of trace elements in the blood plasma of children with ASD with typically developed children (TDC). The participants in this study consisted of 89 children with ASD (14 girls and 74 boys) and 70 TD children (29 girls and 41 boys). The levels of 33 chemical elements have been analyzed by inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (ICP-MS). We detected significant differences in the levels of eight elements between the two groups, among which there were three rare earth elements (REEs): Eu, Pr, and Sc (p = 0.000, p = 0.023, and p < 0.001 respectively); four heavy metals: Bi, Tl, Ti, and V (p = 0.004, p < 0.001, p = 0.001, and p = 0.001 respectively); and one essential element: Cu (p = 0.043). Children with ASD had higher levels of Er, Pr, Sc, Bi, Tl, Ti, and V, and lower levels of Cu in comparison with the TD group. The children exposed to passive smoking had lower levels of lead (Pb) compared with children without exposure (p = 0.018). Four elements (Cr, Er, Dy, and Pr) were negatively correlated to the severity of ASD. The level of Cu was significantly associated with autistic children's behavior (p = 0.014). These results suggest that children with ASD might have abnormal plasma levels of certain chemical elements (including Er, Pr, Sc, Bi, Tl, Ti, and V, and Cu), and some of these elements might be associated with certain clinical features.

References

PubMed