American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Oxidative Stress in Autism: Elevated Cerebellar 3-nitrotyrosine Levels

Elizabeth M. Sajdel-Sulkowska, Boguslaw Lipinski, Herb Windom, Tapan Audhya and Woody McGinnis

DOI : 10.3844/ajbbsp.2008.73.84

American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Volume 4, Issue 2

Pages 73-84


It has been suggested that oxidative stress and/or mercury compounds play an important role in the pathophysiology of autism. This study compared for the first time the cerebellar levels of the oxidative stress marker 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT), mercury (Hg) and the antioxidant selenium (Se) levels between control and autistic subjects. Tissue homogenates were prepared in the presence of protease inhibitors from the frozen cerebellar tissue of control (n=10; mean age, 15.5 years; mean PMI, 15.5 hours) and autistic (n=9; mean age 12.1 years; mean PMI, 19.3 hours) subjects. The concentration of cerebellar 3-NT, determined by ELISA, in controls ranged from 13.69 to 49.04 pmol g-1 of tissue; the concentration of 3-NT in autistic cases ranged from 3.91 to 333.03 pmol g-1 of tissue. Mean cerebellar 3-NT was elevated in autism by 68.9% and the increase was statistically significant (p=0.045). Cerebellar Hg, measured by atomic absorption spectrometry ranged from 0.9 to 35 pmol g-1 tissue in controls (n=10) and from 3.2 to 80.7 pmol g-1 tissue in autistic cases (n=9); the 68.2% increase in cerebellar Hg was not statistically significant. However, there was a positive correlation between cerebellar 3-NT and Hg levels (r=0.7961, p=0.0001). A small decrease in cerebellar Se levels in autism, measured by atomic absorption spectroscopy, was not statistically significant but was accompanied by a 42.9% reduction in the molar ratio of Se to Hg in the autistic cerebellum. While preliminary, the results of the present study add elevated oxidative stress markers in brain to the growing body of data reflecting greater oxidative stress in autism.


© 2008 Elizabeth M. Sajdel-Sulkowska, Boguslaw Lipinski, Herb Windom, Tapan Audhya and Woody McGinnis. 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.