Gut Microbiome and Sex Bias in Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Afaf El-AnsaryEmail author
  • Ramesa Shafi Bhat
  • Naima Zayed
Brain and Microbiome (J Lima-Ojeda, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Brain and Microbiome
  2. Topical Collection on Brain and Microbiome


Purpose of Review

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) express as impaired social interactions and stereotypes. The gut microbiome which is remarkably different in ASD compared with controls may contribute to the sex bias of this disorder, with females being less vulnerable to clinically present autism. This review aims to understand the role of gut microbiota and female sex hormone in the sex bias of autism.

Recent Findings

Recent evidence proved that transplanted gut microbiota from autistic donors but not healthy controls into germ-free mice were effective in inducing autistic features. Moreover selective probiotic known to be more abundant in females than males was effective as a treatment strategy.


The higher autistic phenotypes in males compared with females could be attributed to the protective effect of estrogen, the higher diversity and predominance of probiotics in females, the lower liability of females to develop leaky gut, neuroinflammation, and excitotoxicity as etiological mechanisms.


Autism spectrum disorders Sex bias Gut microbiota Leaky gut Glutamate excitotoxicity 



Autism spectrum disorders




Microbiota epitopes


Maternal immune activation


Microbiota transfer therapy


γ-Aminobutyric acid


Zonula occluden-1


Trypsin-like activity protein


Compliance With Ethical Standards

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Afaf El-Ansary
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ramesa Shafi Bhat
    • 3
  • Naima Zayed
    • 4
  1. 1.Central Laboratory, Female Center for Scientific and Medical StudiesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Autism Research and Treatment CenterRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Biochemistry Department, Science CollegeKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Therapeutic Chemistry DepartmentNational Research CentreCairoEgypt

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