Sex differences in placenta-derived markers and later autistic traits in children.

Publication date: Jul 13, 2023

Autism is more prevalent in males and males on average score higher on measures of autistic traits. Placental function is affected significantly by the sex of the fetus. It is unclear if sex differences in placental function are associated with sex differences in the occurrence of autistic traits postnatally. To assess this, concentrations of angiogenesis-related markers, placental growth factor (PlGF) and soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase (sFlt-1) were assessed in maternal plasma of expectant women in the late 1 (mean= 13. 5 [SD = 2. 0] weeks gestation) and 2 trimesters (mean=20. 6 [SD = 1. 2] weeks gestation), as part of the Generation R Study, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Subsequent assessment of autistic traits in the offspring at age 6 was performed with the 18-item version of the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS). Associations of placental protein concentrations with autistic traits were tested in sex-stratified and cohort-wide regression models. Cases with pregnancy complications or a later autism diagnosis (n = 64) were also assessed for differences in placenta-derived markers. sFlt-1 levels were significantly lower in males in both trimesters but showed no association with autistic traits. PlGF was significantly lower in male pregnancies in the 1 trimester, and significantly higher in the 2 trimester, compared to female pregnancies. Higher PlGF levels in the 2 trimester and the rate of PlGF increase were both associated with the occurrence of higher autistic traits (PlGF-2: n = 3469,b = 0. 24 [SE = 0. 11], p = 0. 03) in both unadjusted and adjusted linear regression models that controlled for age, sex, placental weight and maternal characteristics. Mediation analyses showed that higher autistic traits in males compared to females were partly explained by higher PlGF or a faster rate of PlGF increase in the second trimester (PlGF-2: n = 3469, ACME: b = 0. 005, [SE = 0. 002], p = 0. 004). In conclusion, higher PlGF levels in the 2 trimester and a higher rate of PlGF increase are associated with both being male, and with a higher number of autistic traits in the general population.

Open Access PDF

Concepts Keywords
Angiogenesis Autism
Autism Autistic
Males Derived
Plasma Differences
Trimester Higher


Type Source Name
disease MESH Autism
drug DRUGBANK L-Tyrosine
disease MESH pregnancy complications
drug DRUGBANK Testosterone
drug DRUGBANK Serotonin
disease MESH inflammation
disease MESH preeclampsia
disease MESH gestational hypertension
disease MESH syndromes
disease MESH preterm birth
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease MESH miscarriage
disease MESH live births
disease MESH complications
disease MESH proteinuria
disease MESH Hypertension
disease MESH abnormalities
disease MESH Mental Disorders
disease MESH educational attainment

Original Article

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *