Maternal vitamin D deficiency may explain why autism spectrum disorders are three times more common in boys, according to researchers at the University of Queensland.
In their latest study, Professor Darryl Eyles and Dr. Asad Ali of the Queensland Brain Institute at UQ found that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy caused an increase in testosterone in the developing brain of male rats.
The biological cause of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is unknown, but it has been shown that one of many risk factors, maternal low vitamin D, causes an increase in testosterone in the male fetal and maternal brains. I did. Blood and amniotic fluid.
In addition to its role in calcium absorption, vitamin D is important in many developmental processes.
Our study also showed that in male fetuses deficient in vitamin D, the enzymes that break down testosterone are silent, which may contribute to the presence of high testosterone levels. “
Darryl Aires, Professor, Queensland Brain Institute, UQ
A previous study by Professor Aires found that vitamin D plays an important role in brain development, and that giving mice vitamin D supplements during pregnancy completely prevents progeny ASD-like properties. Shown.
Co-author Dr. Ali said overexposure of the developing brain to sex hormones such as testosterone is believed to be the root cause of ASD, but the reason remained unclear. ..
“Vitamin D is involved in the pathways that control many sex hormones,” said Dr. Ali.
“When rat mothers were fed a low-vitamin D diet, it caused high levels of exposure to testosterone in the male fetal brain.”
Professor Aires said the study was the first to show that known risk factors for ASD alter testosterone in both fetal brain and maternal blood-why ASD is more common in men. One possible factor.
“We studied only one risk factor for ASD (vitamin D deficiency under development). The next step is to look at other possible risk factors such as maternal stress and hypoxia (oxygen deficiency). , To see if they have the same effect, “he said.
This study is published at Molecular autism (DOI: / 10.1186 / s13229-020-00399-2)
This is a collaborative study with Dr. Andrew Whitehouse of the University of Western Australia and is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and the Queensland Mental Health Research Center.
Ali, AA, et al. (2020) Developmental vitamin D deficiency increases fetal exposure to testosterone. Molecular autism. doi.org/10.1186/s13229-020-00399-2.
Vitamin D deficiency may explain why autism spectrum disorders are common in boys
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