, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 51-59

Platelet serotonin, a possible marker for familial autism

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Serotonin (5HT) levels in platelet-rich plasma were measured in 5 autistic subjects who had siblings with either autism or pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), 23 autistic subjects without affected siblings, and 10 normal controls. The 5HT levels of autistic subjects with affected siblings were significantly higher than probands without affected siblings, and autistic subjects without affected siblings had 5HT levels significantly higher than controls. Differences in 5HT levels remained significant after adjustment for sex, age, and IQ. These results suggest that 5HT level in autistic subjects may be associated with genetic liability to autism.

Support for this project was provided in part by the Autism Research Project, National Institutes of Health grant 1 R01 MH 39936, at The Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine; the John Merck Fund (JP), and the Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan (GT). The authors also thank The Johns Hopkins Lipid Research Clinic for assistance in collecting our sample and Cindy Taylor for help in the preparation of this manuscript.