Effects of an Aerobic Training Program on Reaction Time and DNA Methylation of SHANK3 Gene in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Pilot Study

Efectos de un programa de entrenamiento aeróbico en el tiempo de reacción y la metilación de ADN del gen SHANK3 en niños con trastorno de espectro autista: un estudio piloto


Introduction. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that produces cognitive and motor deficits and it is caused by several mechanisms, including epigenetic regulation. Epigenetic processes can be influenced by environmental factors such as physical exercise.

Objective. To analyze the effect of an aerobic physical exercise (APE) program on simple reaction time (SRT) and DNA methylation of island 2 of the SHANK3 gene in children with ASD.

Materials and methods. A quasi-experimental study was carried out on a group of  9 children (7-11 years old) with ASD, who participated in a 10-week APE program. Differences in SRT and DNA methylation were analyzed using the Kruskall-Wallis test by considering a significance level p<0.05.

Results. The median SRT decreased after the training program. However, no statistically significant difference was found (p = 0.53). A pattern of hypermethylation was observed in 11 dinucleotides, both before and after training, and a statistically significant difference was found in the CpG108 position (p = 0.032).

Conclusion. A moderate to vigorous intensity of APE program has the potential to modify SRT and DNA methylation in children with ASD. However, it requires further studies with larger samples in which more genes are analyzed, to corroborate the results described here and strengthen knowledge about the effect of exercise on the epigenetic processes of this population.


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Citado por


Erika Yolanda Hernandez Sandoval
Karim-Martina Alvis-Gómez
Humberto Arboleda Granados
Ana-Gabriela Concha-Mera


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