Saliva Test for Autism Spectrum Disorder May Be Close

Researchers have identified differences in protein biomarkers present in saliva that are associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which may lead to a saliva-based test to aid in diagnosis. The results of this first-of-kind study have been published in the journal Autism Research.

Armand G. Ngounou Wetie, a doctoral candidate at Clarkson University, and colleagues conducted a pilot study of six male participants ages 5–17 with DSM-IV-TR-diagnosed ASD and six male control subjects without any ASD diagnosis or diagnosis of any other neurodevelopmental, psychiatric, or major medical condition. Saliva samples from all participants were collected and compared as both pooled samples and without pooling.

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Nine proteins were found to be significantly elevated in the saliva of the children with ASD; three were lower or absent. These proteins are primarily linked to immune system responses and gastrointestinal issues, with several having significant interactions with one another.

The authors plan to conduct future research with a larger sample size including females and explore specific subtypes of ASD.

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