Elevated fetal steroidogenic activity in autism

S. Baron-Cohen, B. Auyeung, B. Nørgaard-Pedersen, D. M. Hougaard, M. W. Abdallah, L. Melgaard, A. S. Cohen, B. Chakrabarti, L. Ruta, M. V. Lombardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

176 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Autism affects males more than females, giving rise to the idea that the influence of steroid hormones on early fetal brain development may be one important early biological risk factor. Utilizing the Danish Historic Birth Cohort and Danish Psychiatric Central Register, we identified all amniotic fluid samples of males born between 1993 and 1999 who later received ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision) diagnoses of autism, Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) (n=128) compared with matched typically developing controls. Concentration levels of Δ4 sex steroids (progesterone, 17α-hydroxy-progesterone, androstenedione and testosterone) and cortisol were measured with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. All hormones were positively associated with each other and principal component analysis confirmed that one generalized latent steroidogenic factor was driving much of the variation in the data. The autism group showed elevations across all hormones on this latent generalized steroidogenic factor (Cohen's d=0.37, P=0.0009) and this elevation was uniform across ICD-10 diagnostic label. These results provide the first direct evidence of elevated fetal steroidogenic activity in autism. Such elevations may be important as epigenetic fetal programming mechanisms and may interact with other important pathophysiological factors in autism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-376
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 12 2015

Fingerprint

Fetal Movement
Autistic Disorder
International Classification of Diseases
Hormones
Fetal Development
Progesterone
Steroids
Asperger Syndrome
Androstenedione
Biological Factors
Amniotic Fluid
Tandem Mass Spectrometry
Principal Component Analysis
Epigenomics
Liquid Chromatography
Psychiatry
Hydrocortisone
Testosterone
Parturition
Brain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Cite this

Baron-Cohen, S., Auyeung, B., Nørgaard-Pedersen, B., Hougaard, D. M., Abdallah, M. W., Melgaard, L., ... Lombardo, M. V. (2015). Elevated fetal steroidogenic activity in autism. Molecular Psychiatry, 20(3), 369-376. https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2014.48

Elevated fetal steroidogenic activity in autism. / Baron-Cohen, S.; Auyeung, B.; Nørgaard-Pedersen, B.; Hougaard, D. M.; Abdallah, M. W.; Melgaard, L.; Cohen, A. S.; Chakrabarti, B.; Ruta, L.; Lombardo, M. V.

In: Molecular Psychiatry, Vol. 20, No. 3, 12.03.2015, p. 369-376.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Baron-Cohen, S, Auyeung, B, Nørgaard-Pedersen, B, Hougaard, DM, Abdallah, MW, Melgaard, L, Cohen, AS, Chakrabarti, B, Ruta, L & Lombardo, MV 2015, 'Elevated fetal steroidogenic activity in autism', Molecular Psychiatry, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 369-376. https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2014.48
Baron-Cohen S, Auyeung B, Nørgaard-Pedersen B, Hougaard DM, Abdallah MW, Melgaard L et al. Elevated fetal steroidogenic activity in autism. Molecular Psychiatry. 2015 Mar 12;20(3):369-376. https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2014.48
Baron-Cohen, S. ; Auyeung, B. ; Nørgaard-Pedersen, B. ; Hougaard, D. M. ; Abdallah, M. W. ; Melgaard, L. ; Cohen, A. S. ; Chakrabarti, B. ; Ruta, L. ; Lombardo, M. V. / Elevated fetal steroidogenic activity in autism. In: Molecular Psychiatry. 2015 ; Vol. 20, No. 3. pp. 369-376.
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