PTEN in Autism

Biochemical screening and PTEN mutation analysis in individuals with autism spectrum disorders and macrocephaly.


Unlike some other childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, no diagnostic biochemical marker has been identified in all individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

This deficit likely results from genetic heterogeneity among the population.

Therefore, we evaluated a subset of individuals with ASDs, specifically, individuals with or without macrocephaly in the presence or absence of PTEN mutations. We sought to determine if amino or organic acid markers could be used to identify individuals with ASDs with or without macrocephaly in the presence or absence of PTEN mutations, and to establish the degree of macrocephaly in individuals with ASDs and PTEN mutation.

Urine, blood and occipital-frontal circumference (OFC) measurements were collected from 69 individuals meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria. Urine and plasma samples were subjected to amino and organic acid analyses. PTEN was Sanger-sequenced from germline genomic DNA.

Germline PTEN mutations were identified in 27% (6/22) of the macrocephalic ASD population.

All six PTEN mutation-positive individuals were macrocephalic with average OFC+4.35 standard deviations (SDs) above the mean.

No common biochemical abnormalities were identified in macrocephalic ASD individuals with or without PTEN mutations.

In contrast, among the collective ASD population,

elevation of urine aspartic acid (87%; 54/62),

plasma taurine (69%; 46/67) and

reduction of plasma cystine (72%; 46/64) were observed.

PTEN sequencing should be carried out for all individuals with ASDs and macrocephaly with OFC ≥2SDs above the mean. A proportion of individuals with ASDs may have an underlying disorder in sulfur amino acid metabolism.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 22 May 2013; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.114.


Further Readings of Interest

Autoimmunity, intestinal lymphoid hyperplasia, and defects in mucosal B-cell homeostasis in patients with PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome.

The Phosphatase And Tensin Homolog Deleted On Chromosome 10 (PTEN) regulates the phosphoinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT signaling pathway.

In a series of 34 patients with PTEN mutations, we described gastrointestinal lymphoid hyperplasia, extensive hyperplastic tonsils, thymus hyperplasia, autoimmune lymphocytic thyroiditis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and colitis.

Functional analysis of the gastrointestinal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue revealed increased signaling via the PI3K-AKT pathway, including phosphorylation of S6 and increased cell proliferation, but also reduced apoptosis of CD20(+)CD10(+) B cells. Reduced activity of PTEN therefore affects homeostasis of human germinal center B cells by increasing PI3K-AKT signaling via mammalian target of rapamycin as well as antiapoptotic signals.

This entry was posted in Autism, co-morbid, Epigenetics, Gut, Immune System, Inflammation, Neurology, Physiology, Treatment. Bookmark the permalink.

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