Oxidative Stress and Antioxidants in Relation to Autism!!!

Autism is a brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restrictive and repetitive behavior. Before a child is 3 years old, these signs will appear. Autism affects many parts of the brain; how this occurs is not understood. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. Although early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help children gain self-care, social, and communication skills, there is no known cure. Not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, though some become successful.  About a third to a half of individuals with autism do not develop enough natural speech to meet their daily communication needs. The main goals of treatment are to lessen associated deficits and family distress, and to increase quality of life and functional independence. No single treatment is best and treatment is typically tailored to the child’s needs.

Antioxidant nutrients help support the immune system especially when the body is under stress, thereby, reducing the risk of many illnesses including cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic degenerative diseases. It is not advisable to take large amounts of one or two antioxidants while excluding the rest. For optimal protection, a nutritional supplement program should include multiple antioxidants. The primary antioxidants are vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, selenium, coenzyme Q10, and lipoic acid. Also, there are other powerful antioxidant sources such as selenium, grape seed extract, and green tea. There are many other nutrients that also function as antioxidants. The lack of antioxidants can cause oxidative stress thereby causing even more damage to the brain and other parts of the body.

Researchers in Egypt were the first to study the relationship between oxidative stress and autoimmunity in children with autism. The study included 44 children with autism and 44 healthy matched children. The researchers measured plasma F2-isoprostane, as a marker of lipid peroxidation and glutathione peroxidase, as an antioxidant enzyme and serum antineuronal antibodies, as a marker of autoimmunity. They found that oxidative stress, resulting from elevated plasma F2-isoprostane and/or reduced antioxidants, was present in 88.64 percent of the children with autism. It was also discovered that 54.5 percent of children with autism had antineuronal positivity, which indicates a possible autoimmune process. The researchers concluded that the association between oxidative stress and autoimmunity in children with autism may indicate the possible role of oxidative stress, through induction of autoimmunity, in some autistic patients. They suggest that future studies investigate the role of antioxidants and immunotherapy in the prevention and possible treatment of autism.1

1 Mostafa GA, El-Hadidi ES, Hewedi DH, et al. Oxidative stress in Egyptian children with autism: relation to autoimmunity. J Neuroimmunol. 2010;219(1):114-8.