Background: Various data have shown the involvement of serotonin (5-HT) in autism. The presence of the 5-HT transporter in platelets, similar to the same structure located in presynaptic serotonergic neurons, has produced a series of studies aimed at assessing its functionality in this disorder, but the ensuing findings are quite controversial. For this reason, we investigated the 5-HT transporter by means of the specific binding of [3H]-Paroxetine ([3H]-Par), which is currently considered the first-choice ligand for labeling it, in platelets of 20 autistic children and adolescents, as compared with healthy control subjects. Methods: Twenty children and adolescents of both sexes suffering from autism according to DSM IV criteria were included in the study and compared with a similar group of healthy control subjects. Platelet membranes and the binding of [3H]-Par were carried out according to standardized protocols. Results: The results showed a significantly higher density of [3H]-Par binding sites in autistic children than in healthy control subjects. Conclusions: These findings support the presence of a serotonergic dysfunction in autism and would suggest that the 5-HT transporter may have a specific role in this disorder, also in the light of its recently proposed role in brain development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)