Sulphation deficit in 'low-functioning' autistic children: A pilot study

Antonino Alberti, Patrizia Pirrone, Maurizio Elia, Rosemary H. Waring, Corrado Romano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Parents of autistic children and autism support groups often report that autistic episodes are exacerbated when the children eat certain foodstuffs such as dairy products, chocolates, wheat, corn sugar, apples, and bananas. The hypothesis that autistic behavior might be related to metabolic dysfunctions has led us to investigate in a group of 'low functioning' autistic children and in an age-matched control group each made up of 20 subjects, the sulphation capacity available. Methods: Utilizing the biochemical characteristics of paracetamol we evaluated by high performance liquid chromatography, the urine paracetamol-sulfate/paracetamol-glucuronide (PS/PG) ratio in all subjects following administration of this drug. Results: The PS/PG ratio in the group of autistic subjects gave a significantly lower result than the control group with p <.00002. Conclusions: The inability to effectively metabolize certain compounds particularly phenolic amines, toxic for the CNS, could exacerbate the wide spectrum of autistic behavior. Copyright (C) 1999 Society of Biological Psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-424
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 1999


  • Autism
  • HPLC
  • Paracetamol
  • PS/PG ratio
  • Sulphation
  • Urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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