Comparison of Serum Neurofilament Light Chain and Tau Protein Levels in Cases with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Healthy Siblings and Healthy Controls
Fırat Öz1, İlyas Kaya2, Yaşar Tanır2, Canan Küçükgergin3, Abdurrahman Fatih Aydın3
1Departmant of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Siirt Training and Research Hospital, Siirt, Turkey
2Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Istanbul Medical Faculty, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey
3Departments of Medical Biochemistry, Istanbul Medical Faculty, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey
Correspondence to: Fırat Öz
Departmant of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Siirt Training and Research Hospital, Siirt 56000, Turkey
Received: December 11, 2023; Revised: March 3, 2024; Accepted: April 22, 2024; Published online: May 23, 2024.
© The Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

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Objective: There is a growing interest among clinicians and researchers in identifying potential biomarkers associated with autism. Neurofilament light chain (NfL) and Tau protein, which are proteins associated with neurodegeneration and neuroaxonal degeneration, are particularly promising potential biomarker candidates in this field.
Methods: In this study, we compared serum NfL (sNfL) and serum Tau (sTau) levels in Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients, their healthy siblings (HS), and healthy controls (HC), aimed to investigate their relationship with ASD severity. Our study included 43 ASD-diagnosed participants, 43 HS participants and 42 HC participants. Clinical characteristics of the participants were assesed by Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia, Childhood Autism Rating Scale, Aberrant Behavior Checklist, and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Serum samples were subjected to analysis via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to quantitatively measure the levels of NfL and Tau protein.
Results: sNfL levels in the ASD group were significantly higher than both of the control groups. Regarding sTau levels, no significant difference was found between study and control groups. In addition, NfL and Tau levels were not significantly correlated with ASD symptom severity.
Conclusion: Our findings may indicate that the sNfl levels associated with neuroaxonal damage may constitue a potential clinical biomarker rather than being an endophenotype phenomena.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Neurofilament light chain; Tau proteins; Biomarker

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