Evaluation of Zn, Cu, and Se Levels in the North American Autism Spectrum Disorder Population

Sunil Q. Mehta, Supriya Behl, Patrick L. Day, Adriana M. Delgado, Nicholas B. Larson, Lindsay R. Stromback, Andrea R. Huebner, Timothy R. DeGrado, Jessica M. Davis, Paul J. Jannetto, Flora Howie, Mukesh K. Pandey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Metal ion dyshomeostasis and disparate levels of biometals like zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), and selenium (Se) have been implicated as a potential causative factor for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In this study, we have enrolled 129 children (aged 2–4 years) in North America, of which 64 children had a diagnosis of ASD and 65 were controls. Hair, nail, and blood samples were collected and quantitatively analyzed for Zn, Cu and Se using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Of the analyzed biometals, serum Se (116.83 ± 14.84 mcg/mL) was found to be significantly lower in male ASD cases compared to male healthy controls (128.21 ± 9.11 mcg/mL; p < 0.005). A similar trend was found for nail Se levels in ASD (1.01 ± 0.15 mcg/mL) versus that of controls (1.11 ± 0.17 mcg/mL) with a p-value of 0.0132 using a stratified Wilcoxon rank sum testing. The level of Se in ASD cohort was co-analyzed for psychometric correlation and found a negative correlation between total ADOS score and serum Se levels. However, we did not observe any significant difference in Zn, Cu, and Zn/Cu ratio in ASD cases versus controls in this cohort of North American children. Further studies are recommended to better understand the biology of the relationship between Se and ASD status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number665686
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 29 2021


  • Cu
  • Se
  • Zn
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • biometals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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