The possible link between Fetuin-A Protein and Neuro-inflammation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Laila Yousif Al-Ayadhi
  • Farah Ali Alghamdi
  • Lamees Abdula Altamimi
  • Luluh Yousef Alsughayer
  • Abdulrahman Mohammad Alhowikan
  • Dost Muhammad Halepoto KING SAUD UNIVERSITY
Keywords: Fetuin-A, Neuro-inflammation, Autism Spectrum Disorder


Objectives: To investigate the blood plasma levels of Fetuin-A protein in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and healthy controls that could offer novel diagnostic biomarkers of disease development in ASD. Another objective was to investigate the severity of autistic children by Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) and Short Sensory Profile (SSP).

Methods: This case control study was carried out at Autism Research and Treatment (ART) Center, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from October 2019 to February 2020. Plasma concentration of Fetuin-A was analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in ASD subjects (n=46) and normal controls (n=44). Correlation among Fetuin-A levels, CARS and SSP was established by Spearman’s correlation coefficient (r).

Results: Overall, autistic children had significantly (p= 0.0.02) lower Fetuin-A concentration [50.76 (22.2-68.5) ng/ml] than those of healthy controls [53.7 (35.6-99.7) ng/ml] [median (interquartile range)]. Children with mild to moderate autism (n=24, 52%) also showed significantly lower Fetuin-A levels [50.0 (30.0-68.2) ng/ml], (p =0.02} than healthy controls [53.7 (35.6-99.7) ng/ml] [median (IQR)]. However, there was no significant change (p = 0.71) observed between the Fetuin-A levels of children with severe autism [51.8 (22.2-68.5)] ng/ml, mild to moderate autism [50 (30-68.2)] ng/ml [median (IQR)] and healthy controls (p=0.12). Also no significant correlations between Fetuin-A, CARS and SSP were observed (CARS, r= 0.024, p=0.88; SSP, r= -0.003, p=0.98).

Conclusion: Overall the low Fetuin-A plasma values in ASD subjects, most likely show that Fetuin-A could be associated in the physiology of autism. Further studies with larger patient and control cohorts will be necessary to determine whether Fetuin-A can be used as a biomarker for ASD.


How to cite this:
Al-Ayadhi LY, Alghamdi FA, Altamimi LA, Alsughayer LY, Alhowikan AM, Halepoto DM. The possible link between Fetuin-A Protein and Neuro-inflammation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Pak J Med Sci. 2021;37(4):1166-1171.  doi:

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 work is properly cited.

How to Cite
Al-Ayadhi, L. Y., Alghamdi, F. A., Altamimi, L. A., Alsughayer, L. Y., Alhowikan, A. M., & Halepoto, D. M. (2021). The possible link between Fetuin-A Protein and Neuro-inflammation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, 37(4).
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