The ratio of boys to girls with an autistic phenotype is approximately 4: 1, suggesting the involvement of genes on the Y sex chromosome and male sex hormones in the etiology of autism. Sex hormones significantly modulate brain activity at certain developmental stages with cognitive consequences that we observe in the behavioral and cognitive characteristics of boys and girls with ASD. In our projects, we investigate plasma and salivary testosterone levels in the Slovak population of children with autism in relation to specific cognitive abilities and behavioral disorders.
Sex dimorphism in relation to the behavioral characteristics of the autistic phenotype is investigated in experimental animal models in cooperation with the Institute of Molecular Biomedicine Faculty of Medicine, CU … More
AAnalysis of sex hormones in children with autism spectrum disorder
The endocrine system, especially sex hormones, plays a role in the etiology of autism. Finding a correlation of autistic traits with higher levels of prenatal testosterone is the basis of the extreme male brain theory of autism (Baron-Cohen, 2002, 2005), and is one possible explanation for the higher prevalence of autism in the male population. In a group of boys with Asperger’s syndrome, we determined testosterone levels in saliva and revealed the relationship to systemization and empathy.
Krajmer, P., Špajdel, M., Celec, P., Ostatníková, D: Relationship between salivary testosterone levels empathizing/systemizing in Slovak boys with Asperger syndrome, Studia psychologica. – Vol. 53, No. 3 (2011), s. 293-305.
Androgens and aggression in children with autism spectrum disorder
We examined the relationship between plasma testosterone levels and problem behavior in prepubertal boys with ASD who were rated on the Nisonger Child Behavior Rating Form. We evaluated androgen activity by determining the sensitivity of the androgen receptor. In our studies, functional behavioral analysis was used for the first time in Slovakia to evaluate aggressive behavior. Two specific subtypes of aggression have been identified: non-explosive and explosive aggression, which is usually more dangerous. The results confirmed the hypothesis of increased androgenic activity in children with ASD.
Pivovarciova A, Hnilicova S, Ostatnikova D, Mace FC.Pivovarciova A, et al. Bio-behavioral model of aggression in autism spectrum disorders-pilot study.Bratisl Lek Listy. 2015;116(12):702-6.
Lakatošová S, Janšáková K, Babkova J, Repiska G, Belica I, Vidosovicova M and Ostatnikova D. The relationship of steroid hormones, genes related to testosterone metabolism and behavior in boys with autism in Slovakia Psychiatry Investigation. – Roč. 19, č. 2 (2022), s. 73-84
Complex androgenic activity in children with autism spectrum disorder
Androgenic activity poses a potential biological risk of hyperactivity in children with ASD. We observed an association between increased androgen activity and manifestations of hyperactivity in boys with ASD. We examined plasma testosterone levels and androgen receptor sensitivity (according to the number of CAG triplets in the AR gene). We assessed hyperactivity using the Nisonger Child Behavior Rating Form and the ADI-R tool. Increased androgen receptor sensitivity correlated with symptoms of hyperactivity.
Pivovarciova A, Durdiakova J, Babinska K, Kubranska A, Vokalova L, Minarik G, Celec P, Murin M, Ostatnikova D. Testosterone and Androgen Receptor Sensitivity in Relation to Hyperactivity Symptoms in Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders. PLoS One. 2016 Feb 24;11(2).
2D: 4D – prenatal marker of testosterone levels – human study
The presented study is based on the theory that the brain of autistic people is affected during intrauterine development by high levels of prenatal testosterone, which affects the development of the brain in the hypermasculine direction with the risk of manifestation corresponding to the autistic triad of deficits. Our aim was to compare the length ratio of the index finger to the ring finger (2D: 4D) in a group of boys with Asperger’s syndrome with a control group of boys from the general population and to verify the relationship between the prenatal testosterone marker (2D: 4D) and actual salivary testosterone levels within groups. We also examined the relationship between the number of CAG repeats in the androgen receptor gene and salivary testosterone.
Krajmer, P., Spajdel, M., Kubranska, A., & Ostatnikova, D. (2011). 2D:4D finger ratio in Slovak autism spectrum population. Bratislavske Lekarske Listy, 112(7), 377-379.
2D: 4D – prenatal marker of testosterone levels – experimental study
The aim of the experiment was to elucidate the effect of prenatal testosterone on the ratio of second and fourth fingers (2D: 4D) in rats of both sexes and to determine whether this effect is mediated by the androgen receptor. Testosterone modulation was achieved by prenatal administration of testosterone or administration of testosterone to pregnant females, and finger lengths were measured in adult offspring in adulthood. Prenatal hyperandrogenism leads to shortening of both fingers but does not affect their ratio.
Suchonova M, Borbelyova V, Renczes E, Konecna B, Vlkova B, Hodosy J, Ostatnikova D, Celec P. Does the 2nd and 4th digit ratio reflect prenatal androgen exposure? Bratisl Lek Listy. 2019;120(9):703-710.