Are Estrogen Receptors Different in People With Autism?


Boys with autism and boys with Asperger's outnumber girls with either syndrome by a wide margin.

This has led researchers to wonder whether the sex hormones have anything to do with developing the related disorders.

This small study involved researchers from Georgia Regents University in Augusta, who analyzed brain tissue from 13 people who had Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 13 control subjects who did not. Researchers measured levels of aromatase and the estrogen receptor molecule ER? in the brain tissue.

Aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone into the most potent estrogen - estradiol.

The team found 35 percent less ER? mRNA and 38 percent less aromatase mRNA in the brain tissue from the people with ASD than in the control subject brain tissue.

The mRNA of estrogen receptor co-factors SRC1, CBP and P/CAF, was also lower in the ASD brains, at 34%, 77% and 52% respectively.

Lead author Anilkumar Pillai and colleagues say that these lower aromatase levels and lower levels of estrogen receptors might be limiting the conversion of testosterone to estradiol, which results in increased testosterone levels.

Although a small study size, this is the first study to show that estrogen receptors in the brains of people with ASD may be different to other people.

Source: MNT

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