Anti-Gluten Antibodies Linked to Autism

(HealthDay News) – Children with autism have increased levels of anti-gluten antibodies, particularly if they have gastrointestinal symptoms, according to a study published online June 18 in PLOS ONE.

Nga M. Lau, MD, from the Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues measured serum antibodies to native gliadin, deamidated gliadin, and transglutaminase 2, and genotyped for celiac disease associated HLA-DQ2 and -DQ8 alleles in 37 children with autism, 27 unaffected siblings, and 76 age-matched healthy controls.

The researchers found that children with autism had significantly higher levels of IgG antibody to gliadin compared with healthy controls, and non-significantly higher levels compared with unaffected siblings. The anti-gliadin response was significantly associated with gastrointestinal symptoms in the children with autism. In contrast, the levels of antibodies to deamidated gliadin and transglutaminase 2, which are associated with celiac disease, were similar in all groups. There was no association between higher anti-gliadin antibody levels and the HLA-DQ2 and -DQ8 alleles.

“A subset of children with autism displays increased immune reactivity to gluten, the mechanism of which appears to be distinct from that in celiac disease,” Lau and colleagues conclude.

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