Published: 09-02-2023 14:23 | Updated: 10-02-2023 10:25

Register-based studies of sex steroid hormones and psychiatric disorders

The interplay between sex steroid hormones, psychiatric- and neurodevelopmental disorders and adverse behavioral outcomes is in focus in a new thesis from Karolinska Institutet.

Doctoral student Vide Gotby at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics has studied sex steroid hormones, which are important for sex development during the fetal period and in adolescence, but also affect the brain and behavior. Several psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are more common among women, while other, such as neurodevelopmental disorders, are more common in men. More men than women also commit crimes. Vide investigated if sex steroid hormones contribute to the development of these psychiatric disorders and affect the risk of criminal behavior. A better understanding of the risk factors for psychiatric disorders and criminality may eventually lead to better possibilities for prevention and treatment.

What are the most important results in your thesis?

–The main findings of my studies suggest that sex steroid hormones may influence crime, psychiatric- and neurodevelopmental disorders, which in turn can increase the risk of negative outcomes. Conditions associated with increased circulating androgens, but not prenatal androgen exposure, might increase the risk of criminal behaviors. Klinefelter syndrome and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, both conditions leading to decreased androgen levels, are associated with psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. We also investigated if neurodevelopmental symptoms were associated with an increased risks of sexual victimization, and saw that there was evidence of such an association. Finally, we studied use of hormonal contraceptives (especially progestin-only formulation) and the risk of suicidal behavior, and there the association could at least partly be explained by differences in pre-existing risk factors between users and non-users.

Doctoral thesis

Register-based studies of sex steroid hormones and psychiatric disorders.

Vide Gotby. Karolinska Institutet (2023), ISBN: 978-91-8016-919-6