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Theor Biol Med Model. 2005 Jul 19;2:27.

Statistical distribution of blood serotonin as a predictor of early autistic brain abnormalities.

Author information

  • 1Department of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8001, USA. skirmantas.janusonis@yale.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A wide range of abnormalities has been reported in autistic brains, but these abnormalities may be the result of an earlier underlying developmental alteration that may no longer be evident by the time autism is diagnosed. The most consistent biological finding in autistic individuals has been their statistically elevated levels of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT, serotonin) in blood platelets (platelet hyperserotonemia). The early developmental alteration of the autistic brain and the autistic platelet hyperserotonemia may be caused by the same biological factor expressed in the brain and outside the brain, respectively. Unlike the brain, blood platelets are short-lived and continue to be produced throughout the life span, suggesting that this factor may continue to operate outside the brain years after the brain is formed. The statistical distributions of the platelet 5-HT levels in normal and autistic groups have characteristic features and may contain information about the nature of this yet unidentified factor.

RESULTS:

The identity of this factor was studied by using a novel, quantitative approach that was applied to published distributions of the platelet 5-HT levels in normal and autistic groups. It was shown that the published data are consistent with the hypothesis that a factor that interferes with brain development in autism may also regulate the release of 5-HT from gut enterochromaffin cells. Numerical analysis revealed that this factor may be non-functional in autistic individuals.

CONCLUSION:

At least some biological factors, the abnormal function of which leads to the development of the autistic brain, may regulate the release of 5-HT from the gut years after birth. If the present model is correct, it will allow future efforts to be focused on a limited number of gene candidates, some of which have not been suspected to be involved in autism (such as the 5-HT4 receptor gene) based on currently available clinical and experimental studies.

PMID:
16029508
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1199627
Free PMC Article
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