DOI: 10.3390/jpm14010062 ISSN: 2075-4426

Binding Folate Receptor Alpha Autoantibody Is a Biomarker for Leucovorin Treatment Response in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Richard E. Frye, Patrick J. McCarty, Brianna A. Werner, Adrienne C. Scheck, Heidi L. Collins, Steven J. Adelman, Daniel A. Rossignol, Edward V. Quadros
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects up to 1 in 36 children in the United States. It is a heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder with life-long consequences. Patients with ASD and folate pathway abnormalities have demonstrated improved symptoms after treatment with leucovorin (folinic acid), a reduced form of folate. However, biomarkers for treatment response have not been well investigated and clinical trials are lacking. In this retrospective analysis, a cohort of prospectively collected data from 110 consecutive ASD clinic patients [mean (SD) age: 10.5 (6.2) years; 74% male] was examined. These patients all underwent testing for folate receptor alpha autoantibodies (FRAAs) and soluble folate binding proteins (sFBPs) biomarker and were treated with leucovorin, if appropriate. Analyses examined whether these biomarkers could predict response to leucovorin treatment as well as the severity of ASD characteristics at baseline. The social responsiveness scale (SRS), a measure of core ASD symptoms, and the aberrant behavior checklist (ABC), a measure of disruptive behavior, were collected at each clinic visit. Those positive for sFBPs had more severe ASD symptoms, and higher binding FRAA titers were associated with greater ABC irritability. Treatment with leucovorin improved most SRS subscales with higher binding FRAA titers associated with greater response. Leucovorin treatment also improved ABC irritability. These results confirm and expand on previous studies, underscore the need for biomarkers to guide treatment of folate pathways in ASD, and suggest that leucovorin may be effective for children with ASD.

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