Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 97–104 | Cite as

Cortical Serotonin Type-2 Receptor Density in Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Jeremy GoldbergEmail author
  • George M. Anderson
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
  • Geoffrey B. C. Hall
  • Claude Nahmias
  • Ann Thompson
  • Peter Szatmari
Original Paper


Parents (N = 19) of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and adult controls (N = 17) underwent positron emission tomography (PET) using [18F]setoperone to image cortical serotonin type-2 (5-HT2) receptors. The 5-HT2 binding potentials (BPs) were calculated by ratioing [18F]setoperone intensity in regions of interest (ROI) to cerebellar intensity. Cortical 5-HT2 BPs were significantly lower in parents compared to controls and platelet 5-HT levels were significantly negatively correlated with cortical 5-HT2 BP in parents. Lower cortical 5-HT2 receptor density in parents of children with ASD is consistent with reports of diminished 5-HT2 expression and functioning in individuals with ASD. Further research should examine the relationship of reduced 5-HT2 receptor expression to underlying causation and to clinical and neurochemical correlates of autistic behavior.


Autism Positron emission tomography Setoperone [18Fluoro]-setoperone Serotonin Endophenotype 



This project has been supported by the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR; grant #98-179) and the Hamilton Health Sciences Research Foundation. Drs. Goldberg, Szatmari, and Zwaigenbaum have been supported by fellowship awards from the Ontario Mental Health Research Foundation (OMHF). Dr. Anderson acknowledges support of the Korczak Foundation for Autism Research and the Gettner Research Fund. Dr. Raman Chirakal and Dr. J. J. Chen are gratefully acknowledged for the production of setoperone. Dr. Karen Gulenchyn, Dr. Troy Farncombe, Margo Thompson and the PET technologists are thanked for their assistance in acquiring the data. We would like to thank Heather Allin, Eric Duku and Ann Thompson for their advice and efforts in assisting with this study. A special thanks to the parents for participating and for their ongoing support of this and related studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy Goldberg
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • George M. Anderson
    • 3
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
    • 4
    • 5
  • Geoffrey B. C. Hall
    • 1
  • Claude Nahmias
    • 6
  • Ann Thompson
    • 7
    • 8
  • Peter Szatmari
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral NeurosciencesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Hamilton Health SciencesHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Child Study CenterYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  5. 5.Department of PediatricsUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  6. 6.Department of Nuclear MedicineMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  7. 7.Offord Centre for Child StudiesHamiltonCanada
  8. 8.Hamilton Health SciencesHamiltonCanada

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