Tourette Syndrome and Autism: Similarities and Differences

Mark MintzPresenter: Mark Mintz, MD
View the webinar’s corresponding slide presentation here
View this webinar »
Dr. Mintz discussed the clinical and biological links between Tourette Syndrome and Autism Spectrum disorder. He spoke about then need for therapeutic options targeted at the mechanisms of disease rather than only the symptoms.


  1. NJCTS says:

    Any link found between Herpes Virus and Tourette’s Syndrome?

    • DrMintz says:

      There are many different types of Herpes viruses, and Herpes viruses are quite common in the population. Thus, to establish any “cause and effect” relationships would be difficult. To date, I am not aware of any definitive relationship between Herpes infections and the causation of Tourette Syndrome. However, various infections can exacerbate tics in those with Tourette and tic disorders, with rare reports of Herpes causing exacerbation of tics. As discussed in the webinar, the diagnosis of “PANDAS” has evolved to “PANS/CANS”, and thus, there may be a variety of infectious and inflammatory triggers for those genetically predisposed to Tourette/Tic disorders.

  2. NJCTS says:

    What are your thoughts regarding GlaxoSmithKline’s internal documents revealing Autism as an adverse event to vaccines, which came out during discover in an Italian legal proceeding.

    • DrMintz says:

      I have not reviewed those internal documents, so cannot comment directly on them. In general, a number of well done studies have found no link between vaccination causing autism. There are anecdotal reports of individuals with underlying neurometabolic disorders (such as mitochondrial disorders), who have had an exacerbation of their underlying disease after vaccination, which is a known phenomenon. That is a different mechanism from saying that a vaccine causes autism in the general population. As in a comment above, vaccinations are common events, and autism is, unfortunately, epidemic, so that there will be an association between vaccines and autism, but such an association does not represent causation. Additionally, autism spectrum disorders are diagnoses that are made without regard to their biological cause, so that such groups are biologically diverse. Thus, to make sense of any causation hypotheses, one would have to study distinct biological subgroups of autism, rather than heterogenous groups defined by common behaviors.

  3. NJCTS says:

    William Thomson, CDC Scientist, claims that Methylmercury caused tics. What are your thoughts.

    • DrMintz says:

      I am not directly familiar with his work, but I am not aware of any direct link between low level environmental exposure to methylmercury and the causation of Tourette/tics. However, acute mercury intoxication can be highly neurotoxic, and I would not be surprised if tics would be present in some individuals with high level, acute exposure. Since tics are a common phenomena, and environmental mercury is also ubiquitous, one has to be careful in assuming that associations represent causation.