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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Oct;36(9):2044-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.07.005. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

GABA system dysfunction in autism and related disorders: from synapse to symptoms.

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King's College London, Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, United Kingdom.


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are neurodevelopmental syndromes characterised by repetitive behaviours and restricted interests, impairments in social behaviour and relations, and in language and communication. These symptoms are also observed in a number of developmental disorders of known origin, including Fragile X Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, and Foetal Anticonvulsant Syndrome. While these conditions have diverse etiologies, and poorly understood pathologies, emerging evidence suggests that they may all be linked to dysfunction in particular aspects of GABAergic inhibitory signalling in the brain. We review evidence from genetics, molecular neurobiology and systems neuroscience relating to the role of GABA in these conditions. We conclude by discussing how these deficits may relate to the specific symptoms observed.

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