Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A significant proportion of children with ASD and gastrointestinal symptoms have histologic evidence of ileocolitis (inflammation of the terminal ileum and/or colon). We previously reported the molecular characterization of gastrointestinal biopsy tissue from ASD children with ileocolitis (ASDIC+) compared to anatomically similar inflamed tissue from typically developing children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; i.e. Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) and typically developing children with gastrointestinal symptoms but no evidence of gastrointestinal mucosal inflammation (TDIC-). ASDIC+ children had a gene expression profile that, while primarily overlapping with known IBD, had distinctive differences. The present study confirms these findings and replicates this molecular characterization in a second cohort of cases (ASDIC+) and controls (TDIC-). In these two separate case/control mucosal-based cohorts, we have demonstrated overlap of 59 differentially expressed transcripts (DETs) unique to inflamed ileocolonic tissue from symptomatic ASDIC+ children. We now report that 9 of these 59 transcripts are also differentially expressed in the peripheral blood of the second cohort of ASDIC+ children. This set of transcripts represents a putative blood-based biomarker for ASD-associated ileocolonic inflammation.
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