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Curr Neuropharmacol. 2009 Jun;7(2):150-7. doi: 10.2174/157015909788848848.

The serotonergic system: its role in pathogenesis and early developmental treatment of autism.

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1st Department of Pediatrics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.


Autism is a severe childhood disorder already presenting in the first 3 years of life and, therefore, strongly correlated with neurodevelopmental alterations in prenatal, as well as postnatal period. Neurotransmitters hold a pivotal role in development by providing the stimulation needed for synapses and neuronal networks to be formed during the critical period of neuroplasticity. Aberrations of the serotonergic system modify key processes in the developing brain and are strongly implicated in the pathophysiology of developmental disorders. Evidence for the role of serotonin in autism emerges from neuropathological, imaging and genetic studies. Due to its developmental arrest, autism requires early intervention that would, among others, target the disrupted serotonergic system and utilize brain plasticity to elicit clinically important brain changes in children.


5-hydroxytryptophan.; Autism; developmental intervention; plasticity; serotonergic; serotonin

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