OBJECTIVES: Autism has a significant sex difference. This implies that the sex hormones might have effect on autism. Estrogens play an important role in early nervous system development and sex differentiation through estrogen receptors in brain. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that estrogen receptor alpha (ESR1) gene affects the pathogenesis of autism and related symptoms.
METHODS: Genotypes of rs11155819 and rs2234693 were determined in boys with autism and normal boys from Chinese Han population. A case-control study was performed to explore the association between polymorphisms in ESR1 gene and autism susceptibility. Assessment tool was used to evaluate the neuropsychological developmental level of autistic children. Finally, we analyzed the association of these single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with specific symptoms.
RESULTS: The results showed no significant differences between cases and controls in the distribution of genotypes and allele frequencies of the two SNPs. However, rs11155819 TT genotype showed a lower neuropsychological development level among autistic children, especially in the aspects of fine motor and adaptation ability (p=0.028; p=0.042).
CONCLUSION: Polymorphisms of ESR1 are relevant to autism symptoms in Chinese Han children.