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Open AccessArticle

Steroid Metabolites Support Evidence of Autism as a Spectrum

Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, 3010 Berne, Switzerland
Intersci Research Association, Karl Morre Gasse 10, 8430 Leibnitz, Austria
Division of Nephrology/Hypertension, University of Bern, 3010 Berne, Switzerland
Teaching Hospital Internal Medicine, Lindenhofgruppe, 3006 Berne, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Behav. Sci. 2019, 9(5), 52;
Received: 30 March 2019 / Revised: 1 May 2019 / Accepted: 6 May 2019 / Published: 9 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autism and Developmental Disabilities)
Objectives: It is common nowadays to refer to autism as a spectrum. Increased evidence of the involvement of steroid metabolites has been shown by the presence of stronger alterations in Kanner’s syndrome compared with Asperger syndrome. Methods: 24 h urine samples were collected from 20 boys with Asperger syndrome, 21 boys with Kanner’s syndrome, and identically sized control groups, each matched for age, weight, and height for comprehensive steroid hormone metabolite analysis via gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Results: Higher levels of most steroid metabolites were detected in boys with Kanner’s syndrome and Asperger syndrome compared to their matched controls. These differences were more pronounced in affected individuals with Kanner’s syndrome versus Asperger syndrome. Furthermore, a specific and unique pattern of alteration of androsterone, etiocholanolone, progesterone, tetrahydrocortisone, and tetrahydrocortisol was identified in boys with Kanner’s syndrome and Asperger syndrome. Interestingly, in both matched samples, only androsterone, etiocholanolone, progesterone, tetrahydrocortisone, tetrahydrocortisol, and 5a-tetrahydrocortisol groups were positively correlated. In the Asperger syndrome group, all metabolites showed a positive correlation. In the Kanner’s syndrome group, 5-a tetrahydrocortisol with androsterone showed a positive correlation. Conclusions: Due to differences in the level of alteration, the premise that Asperger syndrome is on the mild side of the autism spectrum and that Kanner’s syndrome is on the severe side is supported, but alteration patterns yield different phenotypic expressions. View Full-Text
Keywords: ACTH; autistic disorder; antiglucocorticoid; Kanner; Asperger ACTH; autistic disorder; antiglucocorticoid; Kanner; Asperger
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Gasser, B.A.; Kurz, J.; Dick, B.; Mohaupt, M.G. Steroid Metabolites Support Evidence of Autism as a Spectrum. Behav. Sci. 2019, 9, 52.

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