http://omicsonline.org/open-access/the- ... 000310.pdf
The Possible Association between Elevated Levels of Blood Mercury and the Increased Frequency of Serum Anti-myelin Basic Protein Auto-antibodies in Autistic Children
Gehan Ahmed Mostafa1* and Laila Yousef AL-Ayadhi2
1Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt
2Autism Research and Treatment Center, AL-Amodi Autism Research Chair, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
*Corresponding Author: Mostafa G, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, Tel: +202 22713217; Fax: +202 4820237; Email:
Received date: January 19, 2015, Accepted date: March 18, 2015, Published date: March 25, 2015
Copyright: © 2015 Mostafa G, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Background: Autism can occur as a result of a complex interaction between environmental factors and genetic predisposition. Mercury is a neurotoxicant and it is one of the main environmental triggers for autoimmunity. The underlying pathogenic mechanism in autoimmune disorders is the formation of auto-antibodies. Brain specific autoantibodies are elevated in a subgroup of autistic children. We are the first to study the relation between blood mercury levels and the seropositivity of anti-myelin basic protein (anti-MBP) autoantibodies in autistic children.
Methods: Blood mercury levels were measured, by atomic absorption spectrometry, and serum levels of antiMBP auto-antibodies were measured, by ELISA, in 100 children with autism aged between 5-12 years and 100 healthy-matched control children.
Results: Serum levels of blood mercury were significantly higher in autistic children than healthy controls (P<0.001). Increased levels of blood mercury were found in 48% of autistic patients. In addition, 72% of autistic children had positive results of serum anti-MBP auto-antibodies. There was a significant positive association between the elevated levels of blood mercury and the positivity of serum anti-MBP auto-antibodies in autistic children (P<0.001).
Conclusions: Blood mercury levels were elevated in some autistic children and they were significantly associated with the production of serum anti-MBP auto-antibodies in a group of autistic children. Further research is warranted to determine if the production of brain auto-antibodies is triggered by environmental mercury exposure in autistic children. The possible therapeutic role of mercury chelators in autistic children should be also studied.