Towards the Development of a Diagnostic Test for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Big Data Meets Metabolomics

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder which results in impairments in social communications and interactions as well as repetitive behaviors. Despite current estimates showing that approximately 2.2% of children are affected in the United States, relatively little about ASD pathophysiology is known in part due to the highly heterogenous presentation of the disorder.  Given the limited knowledge into the biological mechanisms governing its etiology, the diagnosis of ASD is performed exclusively based on an individual’s behavior assessed by a clinician through psychometric tools. Although there is no readily available biochemical test for ASD diagnosis, multivariate statistical methods show considerable potential for effectively leveraging multiple biochemical measurements for classification and characterization purposes. In this work, markers associated with the folate dependent one-carbon metabolism and transulfuration (FOCM/TS) pathways analyzed via both Fisher Discriminant Analysis and Support Vector Machine showed strong capability to distinguish between ASD and TD cohorts. Furthermore, using Kernel Partial Least Squares regression it was possible to assess some degree of behavioral severity from metabolomic data. While the results presented need to be replicated in independent future studies, they represent a promising avenue for uncovering clinically relevant ASD biomarkers.


F. Qureshi and J. Hahn. "Towards the Development of a Diagnostic Test for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Big Data Meets Metabolomics"

Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, In Press (2022)