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Genetic explanation for why autism (apparently) affects more males than females

Posted Feb 22 2011 2:51pm

Firstly we should start by saying there is a strand to the debate that strongly indicates that autism in females is heavily underdiagnosed.

That said, interesting new research emerges from George Washington University .

The team basically looked at a gene implicated in autism called retinoic acid-related orphan receptor-alpha, or RORA (brains of autistic people make less of it than usual) and bathed it in two things.

Firstly they bathed human brain cells in an oestrogen mix and secondly they bathed different brain cells in DHT. The oestrogen enhanced RORA production whereas the DHT supressed it.

This is not to downplay the role that underdiagnosis in females very probably plays but it does show how genes affect autism directly.

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