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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 205362, 4 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/205362
Research Article

Decreased Levels of EGF in Plasma of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

1Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, Davis, USA
2The M.I.N.D. Institute, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA
3Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California, Davis, USA

Received 14 September 2011; Revised 3 November 2011; Accepted 16 December 2011

Academic Editor: Antonio M. Persico

Copyright © 2012 Charity Onore et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder estimated to affect 1 in 110 children in the U.S., yet the pathology of this disorder is not fully understood. Abnormal levels of several growth factors have been demonstrated in adults with ASD, including epidermal growth factor (EGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Both of these growth factors serve important roles in neurodevelopment and immune function. In this study, concentrations of EGF and HGF were assessed in the plasma of 49 children with ASD aged 2–4 years old and 31 typically developing controls of a similar age as part of the Autism Phenome Project (APP). Levels of EGF were significantly reduced in the ASD group compared to typically developing controls ( 𝑃 = 0 . 0 0 3 ). There were no significant differences in HGF levels in young children with ASD and typically developing controls. EGF plays an important role in regulating neural growth, proliferation, differentiation and migration, and reduced levels of this molecule may negatively impact neurodevelopment in young children with ASD.