Sexual Dimorphism in Autism

Autism occurs 4 times more often in males. Such sexual dimorphism isn’t uncommon–after all, women are more likely to get depression, and men are more likely to be left-handed–but in many cases we don’t really know why (or, really, how).

In the case of autism, there might now be a clue in the way proteins are regulated. As it turns out, proteins in women’s brains are more tightly regulated by a process called phosphorylation than they are in men’s brains–and this includes a large number of proteins associated with autism.

It actually makes a lot of sense for women’s brains to be more protected than men’s, since women have had the bulk of the responsibility of taking care of the offspring. This is also why men tend to get much sicker than women when they get sick. Women’s bodies are designed to be more resilient and to have more stamina than men’s, and this resilience goes all the way down to the level of molecular biology.

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