The incidence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been rising, however ASD-risk biomarkers remain lacking. We previously identified the presence of maternal autoantibodies to fetal brain proteins specific to ASD, now termed maternal autoantibody-related (MAR) ASD. The current study aimed to create and validate a serological assay to identify ASD-specific maternal autoantibody patterns of reactivity against eight previously identified proteins (CRMP1, CRMP2, GDA, NSE, LDHA, LDHB, STIP1, and YBOX) that are highly expressed in developing brain, and determine the relationship of these reactivity patterns with ASD outcome severity. We used plasma from mothers of children diagnosed with ASD (n = 450) and from typically developing children (TD, n = 342) to develop an ELISA test for each of the protein antigens. We then determined patterns of reactivity a highly significant association with ASD, and discovered several patterns that were ASD-specific (18% in the training set and 10% in the validation set vs. 0% TD). The three main patterns associated with MAR ASD are CRMP1 + GDA (ASD% = 4.2 vs. TD% = 0, OR 31.04, p = <0.0001), CRMP1 + CRMP2 (ASD% = 3.6 vs. TD% = 0, OR 26.08, p = 0.0005) and NSE + STIP1 (ASD% = 3.1 vs. TD% = 0, OR 22.82, p = 0.0001). Additionally, we found that maternal autoantibody reactivity to CRMP1 significantly increases the odds of a child having a higher Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) severity score (OR 2.3; 95% CI: 1.358–3.987, p = 0.0021). This is the first report that uses machine learning subgroup discovery to identify with 100% accuracy MAR ASD-specific patterns as potential biomarkers of risk for a subset of up to 18% of ASD cases in this study population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience