Linking Autistic Behaviorial Symptoms to Changes in Steroid Hormone Availability

Autistic disorders have been diagnosed with increasing frequency in recent years, with simultaneous unclear cause, origin and development of the clinical picture. The disorder is characterized by deficits in social behavior, a lack in communicative skills combined with repetitive and stereotyped interests.

Based on findings in animal studies, which indicate that in particular a dysregulation of stress processing with overactivity of certain hormones could be responsible for the autistic behavior, new therapeutic options for treatment are opening up. In particular, metformin - known for its antiandrogenic effects - could influence social withdrawal. The study comprehensively analyzes the effects of metformin on steroid hormones and social behavior to provide a longer-term basis for clinical trials in autistic children.

The research project is led by Dr. Benedikt Gasser of the Medical School Department of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Sports Medicine at the University of Basel.