, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 397-407

Elevated blood serotonin in autistic probands and their first-degree relatives

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Abstract

Whole blood serotonin levels and platelet counts were studied in 14 families, representing 57 family members and 15 probands who met DSM III criteria for infantile autism. High serotonin appeared to segregate in families. When two parents had high serotonin, the serotonin level in their offspring was twice the parental level. When one parent had high serotonin, the serotonin level in the offspring approximated the level of serotonin in either the high serotonin parent or the low serotonin parent. For the case where both parents had low serotonin, in one family the children had low serotonin and in a second family, high serotonin levels were present in the autistic proband, and a sibling with severe mental retardation. Mean serotonin levels were higher for both male and female, autistics and family members, in the four black families than in the 10 Caucasian families.

The research was supported in part by NIH-BRSG 2507-RR-0585-01, the March of Dimes 8-85-49, 8-85-08, and the Health Resources Foundation.