Rafail I. Kushak* and Harland S. Winter Pages 249 - 254 ( 6 )
Gender dimorphism in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is well known; however, the reasons for gender differences in autism are poorly understood. There are several hypotheses that might explain male prevalence in ASD, including increased levels of androgens, “extreme male brain,” and a combination of elevated levels of prenatal testosterone in conjunction with prenatal stress. In this comprehensive review, differences in the gut microbiome and metabolome in humans and animals are described to explain gender differences in individuals with ASD, effects on behavior and social interactions and the impact of antibiotics, probiotics and fecal transplants. The bidirectional relationship between sex hormones and intestinal microbiota could also be relevant. Such interactions have been described in autoimmune diseases, but thus far, are not implicated in ASD. Since intestinal microbiota may affect behavior, it is possible that the prevalence of ASD in boys may be associated with more significant changes in the intestinal microbiome than in affected girls.
Autism, gender dimorphism, intestinal microbiota, metabolome, behavior, sex hormones.
Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston