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Does autism have anything to do with testosterone?


Doctors, 07.11.2018

developmental disorders

Researchers may find a possible explanation for a higher risk of autism in boys.

Does autism have anything to do with testosterone?

Gender difference: Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls.

© Tyron Molteni /

HEIDELBERG. It is known that autism is four times higher in males than females. According to the University of Heidelberg, scientists made a possible explanation for this.

Studies of human cells and mice on brain areas have shown that testosterone activates certain risk genes in the brain during the prenatal and postnatal period (Front Mol Neurosci 2018, online 25 September and online 19 July).

Until now, defects in so-called SHANK genes are known to be a strong risk factor for the onset of autism. New results suggest that these genetic disorders may have a greater impact on the brain of men than women.

For their work, the team used neuroblastoma cell culture as a model to develop nerve cells.

Higher levels of Shank proteins in male mice

Scientists have discovered that activation of the SHANK genes in these cells is due to the binding of testosterone to an androgen receptor. When this receptor was blocked, the strong activation of risk genes disappeared.

Çalış We've confirmed this in studies on the brain regions of young mice where this androgen receptor is not formed, along with these genes have been activated more weakly than control animals with strong receptors, Yaz said one author. Simone Berkel in University Hospital Communication.

The researchers also examined the amount of stem protein in the brain of the male and female mice before and after the birth. In males, significantly higher Shank proteins were found than females.

De We assume that the larger shaft protein in the male brain increases the 39 punching force Prof in the SHANK genes and therefore leads to a higher risk of autism, ler said senior author Professor Gudrun Rappold at the Faculty of Communication of the University of Zurich. (Bp)

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