Previous research has shown a connection between metabolic abnormalities in the methionine cycle and transsulfuration pathway and autism spectrum disorder. Using clinical data from a case-control study investigating measurements of transmethylation and transsulfuration metabolites, a steady-state model of these metabolites in liver cells was developed and participant-specific parameters were identified. Comparison of mean parameter values and parameter distributions between neurotypical study participants and those on the autism spectrum revealed significant differences for four model parameters. Sensitivity analysis identified the parameter describing the rate of glutamylcysteine synthesis, the rate-limiting step in glutathione production, to be particularly important in determining steady-state metabolite concentrations. These results may provide insight into key reactions to target for potential intervention strategies relating to autism spectrum disorder.
Journal of Theoretical Biology 416, pp. 28-37 (2017)