, Volume 388, Issue 8, pp 1643-1651
Date: 23 May 2007

Autism and urinary exogenous neuropeptides: development of an on-line SPE–HPLC–tandem mass spectrometry method to test the opioid excess theory

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Abstract

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder with unknown etiology. One hypothesis regarding etiology in autism is the “opioid peptide excess” theory that postulates that excessive amounts of exogenous opioid-like peptides derived from dietary proteins are detectable in urine and that these compounds may be pathophysiologically important in autism. A selective LC–MS/MS method was developed to analyze gliadinomorphin, β-casomorphin, deltorphin 1, and deltorphin 2 in urine. The method is based on on-line SPE extraction of the neuropeptides from urine, column switching, and subsequent HPLC analysis. A limit of detection of 0.25 ng/mL was achieved for all analytes. Analyte recovery rates from urine ranged between 78% and 94%, with relative standard deviations of 0.2–6.8%. The method was used to screen 69 urine samples from children with and without autism spectrum disorders for the occurrence of neuropeptides. The target neuropeptides were not detected above the detection limit in either sample set.

Dedicated to Prof. Werner Engewald on the occasion of his 70th birthday.