Food and Behaviour Research

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Autistic children exhibit decreased levels of essential Fatty acids in red blood cells.

Brigandi SA, Shao H, Qian SY, Shen Y, Wu BL, Kang JX (2015) Int J Mol Sci.  16(5) 10061-76 

Web URL: Please find the OPEN ACCESS paper and related research on PubMed here


Omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are essential nutrients for brain development and function.
However, whether or not the 
levels of these fatty acids are altered in individuals with autism remains debatable.

In this study, we compared the 
fatty acid contents between 121 autistic patients and 110 non-autistic, non-developmentally delayed controls, aged 3-17.

Analysis of the 
fatty acid composition of redblood cell (RBC) membrane phospholipids showed that the percentage of total PUFA was lower in autistic patients than in controls; 
levels of n-6 arachidonic acid (AA) and n-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were particularly decreased (p < 0.001).

In addition, plasma 
levels of the pro-inflammatory AA metabolite prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) were higher in a subset of the autistic participants (n = 20) compared to controls.

Our study demonstrates an alteration in the PUFA profile and increased production of a PUFA-derived metabolite in 
autistic patients, supporting the hypothesis that abnormal lipid metabolism is implicated in autism.