Italian researchers, under Professor Massimo Castagnola of Rome's Universita Cattolica, analysed saliva samples from 27 children with autism spectrum disorders and 23 healthy children of the same age, focusing on small proteins and peptides, which are building blocks of protein.
Two-thirds of the children in the autism spectrum disorders group had at least one salivary peptide that differed from children without autism. It's not clear if autism was the reason for those differences or why those differences weren't seen in all of the autistic children. However, analysing those peptides might help to identify ‘a considerable subgroup’ of people with autistic spectrum disorders, and the peptide differences might trace back to the central nervous system, writes Castagnola.
The researchers note that their saliva test isn't ready for widespread use yet as it needs to be tested in larger groups of people and more needs to be learned about the connection between the peptides and autism.
The study appears in the Journal of
Read more general research on autism
First Published in Febuary/2009
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