Researchers use tooth matrix biomarkers to study children’s metabolic cycles
NEW YORK, U.S.: Few studies have examined the association between elemental exposures and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). New research has filled the gap and identified elemental signatures in primary teeth that are unique to children with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, or both neurodevelopmental conditions. The findings suggest that the metabolic regulation of nutrients and toxins in children plays a pivotal role in these diseases. The study may be instrumental in identifying factors that cause the disorders and developing an early treatment plan.
The researchers examined the primary teeth of 74 children enrolled in the Roots of Autism and ADHD Twin Study in Sweden, which included twin siblings with and without autism and ADHD and compared their elemental metabolism. After reconstructing the children’s prenatal and early-life exposures to nutrients and toxic elements, the researchers found that each condition has a unique metabolic signature, which displays a combination of dysregulation in metabolic pathways involving essential and toxic elements.
“Environmental epidemiologists typically study exposure to essential and toxic elements by examining how much of a given element a child was exposed to, but our work indicates that the way a child metabolizes environmental exposures is essential to healthy neurodevelopment,” said Dr. Paul Curtin, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.
“The discovery that autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and the combined presentation of autism and ADHD each have a unique metabolic signature can inform future studies on what might cause the disorders. It could help us determine the pathways implicated in the different diseases, which, in turn, could inform the development of treatment and prevention strategies.”
The study, titled “Dynamical properties of elemental metabolism distinguish attention deficit hyperactivity disorder from autism spectrum disorder,” was published on Sept. 25, 2019, in Translational Psychiatry.