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Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Jan 15;45(2):158-63.

Whole blood serotonin and plasma beta-endorphin in autistic probands and their first-degree relatives.

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INSERM U155, Faculté Jussieu, Paris, France.



Whole blood serotonin (5-HT) and C-terminally directed beta-endorphin protein immunoreactivity (C-ter-beta-EP-ir) are known to be elevated in autistic subjects and might be possible markers of genetic liability to autism. This study thus investigates the familial aggregation of 5-HT and of C-ter-beta-EP-ir levels in first degree relatives of autistic probands.


In a sample of 62 autistic subjects and 122 of their first-degree relatives, compared to age and sex-matched controls, we measured 5-HT by radioenzymology and C-ter-beta-EP-ir by radioimmunoassay.


We confirm the previously reported familiality of hyperserotoninemia in autism as mothers (51%), fathers (45%) and siblings (87%) have elevated levels of 5-HT, and we reveal presence of elevated levels of C-ter-beta-EP-ir in mothers (53%) of autistic subjects.


Familial aggregation of quantitative variables, such as concentration of neurotransmitters, within unaffected relative could serve as an intermediate phenotype and might thus help the search of genetic susceptibility factors in autism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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