Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 241–248 | Cite as

Cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindolacetic acid and homovanillic acid: reciprocal relationships with impulsive aggression in human subjects

  • Emil F. Coccaro
  • Royce Lee
Biological Psychiatry - Original Article


While the relationship between cerebrospinal fluid 5-HIAA (CSF 5-HIAA) and aggression is typically reported as inverse, studies of some groups of aggressive individuals demonstrate a positive (or no) relationship, between these two variables. It is possible that simultaneous examination of both CSF 5-HIAA and CSF homovanillic acid (HVA), which co-vary in human subjects may clarify differences in reported findings in different groups of aggressive individuals. CSF 5-HIAA and CSF HVA concentrations were simultaneously examined in 60 healthy human subjects (40 with personality disorder and 20 healthy controls) and were correlated with measures of aggression and impulsivity. CSF 5-HIAA concentrations correlated positively, and CSF HVA concentrations correlated inversely, with a composite measure of impulsive aggression in all subjects as well as in the personality disordered subjects. The CSF 5-HIAA findings are consistent with those demonstrating reduced post-synaptic 5-HT receptor responsiveness to 5-HT agent challenge and suggest differences in the pathophysiology between different groups of subjects with aggressive behavior, particularly with regard to severity of aggressive behavior.


CSF 5-HIAA HVA Aggression Impulsivity Personality 



This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health: RO-1 MH46848 and KO-2 MH00095 (Dr. Coccaro).

Conflict of interest statement



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Pritzker School of MedicineThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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