Levels of the toxic metals lead and mercury were 30-40% higher in analysed samples from children diagnosed with autism compared with an asymptomatic control group. That was one of the primary findings published in new research from Altaf Alabdali and colleagues* based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Authors also reported that measured levels of important compounds involved in detoxification mechanisms, glutathione-s-transferase (GST) and vitamin E, were decreased in children with autism and correlated with autism severity. The cumulative effects from these findings suggested that an accumulation of toxic metals and impaired means of metabolising such compounds may contribute to the onset or perpetuation of symptoms seen in autism.
Supported by a growing body of research suggestive of a more combined model of genetic and environmental factors potentially at work in relation to autism, the authors focused on compounds and biological systems previously cited in the autism research literature. Metals such as lead and mercury are already well-known pollutants, exposure to which in high enough doses carries various adverse effects on biology and behaviour. Although some controversy still exists around the source(s) of exposure to such metals, the Alabdali results hint that further investigations are required for at least some children on the autism spectrum. Lower levels of GST also noted in the autism group adds to a substantial body of work implicating this important pathway in relation to autism.
The authors conclude that further work is required into whether or not supplementation with antioxidants may prove beneficial for some on the autism spectrum in order to remove the “toxicity burden” as and when identified.....