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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 1998;105(4-5):525-35.

Hypothesis: is infantile autism a hypoglutamatergic disorder? Relevance of glutamate - serotonin interactions for pharmacotherapy.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Göteborg, Sweden.


Based on 1) neuroanatomical and neuroimaging studies indicating aberrations in brain regions that are rich in glutamate neurons and 2) similarities between symptoms produced by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonists in healthy subjects and those seen in autism, it is proposed in the present paper that infantile autism is a hypoglutamatergic disorder. Possible future pharmacological interventions in autism are discussed in the light of the intimate interplay between central glutamate and serotonin, notably the serotonin (5-HT) 2A receptor. The possible benefit of treatment with glutamate agonists [e.g. agents acting on the modulatory glycine site of the NMDA receptor, or so-called ampakines acting on the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptor] is discussed, as well as the potential usefulness of a selective 5-HT2A receptor antagonist.

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