Insulin-like growth factor and the etiology of autism

Gary Steinman*, David Mankuta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The basic hypothesis for this study is that reduced peripartum level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF) due to genetic, epigenetic, or environmental factors is a sentinel biomarker of increased probability of later development of autism. The central objective of the resultant proposed study described here is examining if a correlation exists between the serum level of IGF in the fetus/newborn and the probability of autism developing later in the child. Mechanisms possibly causing such a decrease are considered. This would define a prospective biomarker for and possible etiology of this disorder.Insulin-like growth factor-1 directly affects the rate at which oligodendrocytes promote myelination in the central nervous system, especially in the brain. Factors which reduce the production or availability of IGF could retard normal nerve programming in the fetus or neonate. Thus, it would be desirable to arrest the pathologic processes of autism in the early neonatal stage before irreversible nerve damage occurs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)475-480
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Drs. Ilene Lee, Rubin Cooper, Deepak Nanda, and Piotr Kozlowski, as well as Ms. Roberta Zuckerman, Doroto Gruber, Moriya Gamliel, and Sheli Friedman, for their helpful advice, assistance, and suggestions during the preparations leading up to this manuscript. Funding was provided by the Touro College Office of Sponsored Programs and the Israel Psychobiologic Fund. ALS amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ASD autism series of disorders CSF cerebrospinal fluid DES diethylstilbesterol DSM Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders DZ dizygotic ELISA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act GH growth hormone HC head circumference hPL human placental lactogen ICSI intracytoplasmic sperm injection IGF insulin-like growth factor IGFBP IGF binding protein IUGR intrauterine growth restriction IVF in vitro fertilization L&D labor and delivery department MIA maternal immune activation MS multiple sclerosis MZ monozygotic PDD-NOS pervasive development disorder (not otherwise specified) PROM premature rupture of membranes RS Rett Syndrome SGA small for gestation age VSGA very small for gestation age


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