Vitamin A Improves the Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Decreases 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT): A Pilot Study
Objectives: In the present study, we sought to test whether vitamin A supplementation could improve autistic symptoms and decrease serum 5-HT levels.
Methods: The DSM-V criteria and CARS score were used for symptom description and symptom assessment of the patients, respectively, before and after vitamin A supplementation (VAS). Serum retinol and 5-HT levels, mRNA levels of RAR α, β, and γ and TPH1 expression were detected in autistic children before and after VAS and in normal children.
Results: Serum retinol levels in children with ASD were significantly lower than in control children. Serum 5-HT levels in children with ASD were higher than in control children, which was correlated with symptom severity of children with autism. After VA supplementation, the children with ASD exhibited significant improvements in autism symptoms. Serum retinol concentrations of children with ASD were significantly increased, and serum 5-HT levels were decreased. Moreover, statistically significant change were observed in mRNA expression levels of RAR α, RAR γ and TPH1 after VAS compared to baseline.
Conclusions: This study suggested that VA supplementation may improve symptoms and reduce 5-HT levels in children with ASD, indicating that VA supplementation is a reasonable therapy at least for a subset of children with autism.