AofA Science Summary: possible link between the elevated serum levels of neurokinin A and anti-ribosomal P protein antibodies in children with autism
Neurogenic inflammation is orchestrated by a large number of neuropeptides. Tachykinins (substance P, neurokinin A and neurokinin B) are pro-inflammatory neuropeptides that may play an important role in some autoimmune neuroinflammatory diseases. Autoimmunity may have a role in the pathogenesis of autism in some patients. We are the first to measure serum neurokinin A levels in autistic children. The relationship between serum levels of neurokinin A and anti-ribosomal P protein antibodies was also studied.
Serum neurokinin A and anti-ribosomal P protein antibodies were measured in 70 autistic children in comparison to 48 healthy-matched children.
Autistic children had significantly higher serum neurokinin A levels than healthy controls (P < 0.001). Children with severe autism had significantly higher serum neurokinin A levels than patients with mild to moderate autism (P < 0.001). Increased serum levels of neurokinin A and anti-ribosomal P protein antibodies were found in 57.1% and 44.3%, respectively of autistic children. There was significant positive correlations between serum levels of neurokinin A and anti-ribosomal P protein antibodies (P = 0.004).
Serum neurokinin A levels were elevated in some autistic children and they were significantly correlated to the severity of autism and to serum levels of anti-ribosomal P protein antibodies. However, this is an initial report that warrants further research to determine the pathogenic role of neurokinin A and its possible link to autoimmunity in autism. The therapeutic role of tachykinin receptor antagonists, a potential new class of anti-inflammatory medications, should also be studied in autism.