Nearly four times more males are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than females. Consequently, most basic and preclinical studies on ASD have focused on males. A new study sheds light on how ASD manifests in the brains of females. Based on the findings, the researchers warn that conclusions drawn from studies conducted primarily in males should not be assumed to hold true for females.
Exposure to inflammation promoting cytokines in the womb generated due to maternal stress during pregnancy differentially affects stress and immune regulatory brain circuitry in male and female offspring and retained into midlife. The study demonstrates a need for sex-dependent targets and therapeutics for early therapeutic intervention and prevention in neuropsychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depression.