Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 1124–1130 | Cite as

Brief Report: Whole Blood Serotonin Levels and Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Sarah Marler
  • Bradley J. Ferguson
  • Evon Batey Lee
  • Brittany Peters
  • Kent C. Williams
  • Erin McDonnell
  • Eric A. Macklin
  • Pat Levitt
  • Catherine Hagan Gillespie
  • George M. Anderson
  • Kara Gross Margolis
  • David Q. Beversdorf
  • Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele
Brief Report

Abstract

Elevated whole blood serotonin levels are observed in more than 25 % of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Co-occurring gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are also common in ASD but have not previously been examined in relationship with hyperserotonemia, despite the synthesis of serotonin in the gut. In 82 children and adolescents with ASD, we observed a correlation between a quantitative measure of lower GI symptoms and whole blood serotonin levels. No significant association was seen between functional constipation diagnosis and serotonin levels in the hyperserotonemia range, suggesting that this correlation is not driven by a single subgroup. More specific assessment of gut function, including the microbiome, will be necessary to evaluate the contribution of gut physiology to serotonin levels in ASD.

Keywords

Serotonin 5-HT Gastrointestinal (GI) IL-6 Medical comorbidities Autism Treatment Network 

Abbreviations

ABC

Aberrant Behavior Checklist

ADOS

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule

ASD

Autism spectrum disorder

FC

Functional constipation

GI

Gastrointestinal

QPGS

Questionnaire on Pediatric Gastrointestinal Symptoms-Rome III

RBS-R

Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised

SensOR

Sensory Over-Responsivity Inventory

STAI

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Marler
    • 1
  • Bradley J. Ferguson
    • 2
  • Evon Batey Lee
    • 3
  • Brittany Peters
    • 1
  • Kent C. Williams
    • 4
  • Erin McDonnell
    • 5
  • Eric A. Macklin
    • 5
  • Pat Levitt
    • 6
    • 7
  • Catherine Hagan Gillespie
    • 8
  • George M. Anderson
    • 9
  • Kara Gross Margolis
    • 10
  • David Q. Beversdorf
    • 11
  • Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele
    • 12
    • 13
    • 14
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program, The Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental DisordersUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Pediatrics, Psychology, and PsychiatryVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and NutritionNationwide Children’sColumbusUSA
  5. 5.Biostatistics CenterMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  6. 6.Developmental Neurogenetics, Institute for the Developing MindChildren’s Hospital Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  7. 7.Departments of Neurogenetics, Pediatrics, Neuroscience, Pharmacy, Psychiatry, Pathology and Psychology, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  8. 8.Department of Veterinary PathobiologyUniversity of Missouri College of Veterinary MedicineColumbiaUSA
  9. 9.Yale Child Study CenterYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  10. 10.Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and NutritionColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  11. 11.Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program, The Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Departments of Radiology, Neurology, and Psychological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  12. 12.Department of Psychiatry and Sackler Institute for Developmental PsychobiologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  13. 13.New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA
  14. 14.New York Presbyterian Hospital Center for Autism and the Developing BrainWhite PlainsUSA

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