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Maternal autoantibody profiles as biomarkers for ASD and ASD with co-occurring intellectual disability

Maternal autoantibody-related ASD (MAR ASD) is a subtype of autism in which pathogenic maternal autoantibodies (IgG) cross the placenta, access the developing brain, and cause neurodevelopmental alterations and behaviors associated with autism in the exposed offspring. We previously reported maternal IgG response to eight proteins (CRMP1, CRMP2, GDA LDHA, LDHB, NSE, STIP1, and YBOX) and that reactivity to nine specific combinations of these proteins (MAR ASD patterns) was predictive of ASD risk. The aim of the current study was to validate the previously identified MAR ASD patterns (CRMP1 + GDA, CRMP1 + CRMP2, NSE + STIP1, CRMP2 + STIP1, LDHA + YBOX, LDHB + YBOX, GDA + YBOX, STIP1 + YBOX, and CRMP1 + STIP1) and their accuracy in predicting ASD risk in a prospective cohort employing maternal samples collected prior to parturition. We used prenatal plasma from mothers of autistic children with or without co-occurring intellectual disability (ASD = 540), intellectual disability without autism (ID = 184) and general population controls (GP = 420) collected by the Early Markers for Autism (EMA) study. We found reactivity to one or more of the nine previously identified MAR ASD patterns in 10% of the ASD group compared with 4% of the ID group and 1% of the GP controls (ASD vs GP: Odds Ratio (OR) = 7.81, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 3.32 to 22.43; ASD vs ID: OR = 2.77, 95% CI (1.19-7.47)) demonstrating that the MAR ASD patterns are strongly associated with the ASD group and could be used to assess ASD risk prior to symptom onset. The pattern most strongly associated with ASD was CRMP1 + CRMP2 and increased the odds for an ASD diagnosis 16-fold (3.32 to >999.99). In addition, we found that several of these specific MAR ASD patterns were strongly associated with ASD with intellectual disability (ASD + ID) and others associated with ASD without ID (ASD-no ID). Prenatal screening for these MAR patterns may lead to earlier identification of ASD and facilitate access to the appropriate early intervention services based on each child’s needs.

Authors: Ramirez-Celis, Alexandra; Croen, Lisa A; Yoshida, Cathleen K; Alexeeff, Stacey E; Schauer, Joseph; Yolken, Robert H; Ashwood, Paul; Van de Water, Judy

Mol Psychiatry. 2022 Sep;27(9):3760-3767. Epub 2022-05-26.

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