Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 105, Issue 4, pp 525–535

Hypothesis: Is infantile autism a hypoglutamatergic disorder? Relevance of glutamate – serotonin interactions for pharmacotherapy

  • M. L. Carlsson

DOI: 10.1007/s007020050076

Cite this article as:
Carlsson, M. J Neural Transm (1998) 105: 525. doi:10.1007/s007020050076


Based on 1) neuroanatomical and neuroimaging studies indicating aberrations in brain regions that are rich in glutamate neurons and 2) similarities between symptoms produced by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonists in healthy subjects and those seen in autism, it is proposed in the present paper that infantile autism is a hypoglutamatergic disorder. Possible future pharmacological interventions in autism are discussed in the light of the intimate interplay between central glutamate and serotonin, notably the serotonin (5-HT) 2A receptor. The possible benefit of treatment with glutamate agonists [e.g. agents acting on the modulatory glycine site of the NMDA receptor, or so-called ampakines acting on the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptor] is discussed, as well as the potential usefulness of a selective 5-HT2A receptor antagonist.

Keywords: AutismglutamateserotoninperceptionPCPketamine.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. L. Carlsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, University of Göteborg, Göteborg, SwedenSE