Oxidative stress, metabolic and mitochondrial abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder

Morten Thorsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired development and by abnormal function in regards to social interaction, communication and restricted, repetitive behavior. It affects approximately 1% of the worldwide population. Like other psychiatric disorders the diagnosis is based on observation of, and interview with the patient and next of kin, and diagnostic tests. Many genes have been associated with autism, but only few highly penetrant. Some researchers have instead focused on oxidative stress, metabolic abnormalities and mitochondrial dysfunction as an explanation of the disorder. Currently no cure exists for the disorder, making these abnormalities interesting as they are possibly correctable with supplements or treatment. These various processes cannot be seen independently as they are influencing and interacting with each other. Furthermore many of the metabolic changes seen in autism have also been shown in other psychiatric disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder along with often comorbid disorders like epilepsy and intellectual disability. As such some of these abnormalities are not specific, however, could indicate a similar mechanism for the development of these disorders, with symptomatology and severity varying according to the location and the amount of damage done to proteins, cells and DNA. Clinical studies trying to treat these abnormalities, have widely been successful in correcting the metabolic abnormalities seen, but only some studies have also shown bettering of autistic symptoms. Hopefully with increased knowledge of the pathophysiology of the disorder, future preventive measures or treatment can be developed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProgress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science : Autism
EditorsMirolyuba Ilieva, Way Kwok-Wai Lau
Number of pages24
PublisherAcademic Press
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)978-0-12-821242-4
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesProgress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science

Bibliographical note

© 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder/etiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria/metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Reactive Oxygen Species/metabolism


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