Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Serotonin and autism

with 3 comments

About 30% of autistics have elevated serotonin levels, and autism has been linked to polymorphisms in SERT – a serotonin transporter. Chris sent me this great link the other day:

Many children with autism have elevated blood levels of serotonin – a chemical with strong links to mood and anxiety. But what relevance this “hyperserotonemia” has for autism has remained a mystery.

New research by Vanderbilt University Medical Center investigators provides a physical basis for this phenomenon, which may have profound implications for the origin of some autism-associated deficits.

In an advance online publication in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Ana Carneiro, Ph.D., and colleagues report that a well-known protein found in blood platelets, integrin beta3, physically associates with and regulates the serotonin transporter (SERT), a protein that controls serotonin availability.

Autism, a prevalent childhood disorder, involves deficits in language, social communication and prominent rigid-compulsive traits. Serotonin has long been suspected to play a role in autism since elevated blood serotonin and genetic variations in the SERT have been linked to autism. Sticky blood protein yields clues to autism

I love the way the science reporter thinks the link between elevated serotonin and autism is a mystery. He doesn’t know that serotonin has a powerful influence on shyness versus sociability.

The relationship of SERT with integrin beta3 is a good demonstration of how the same effects (in this case high serotonin) can be caused by several different genes.

Wait – wait… nope… still nothing to do with mercury.


Written by alienrobotgirl

11 March, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Autism Genetics

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3 Responses

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  1. Hi Peter, I believe it is more common, though not universal. There are many reasons for it and I’m sure serotonin is one of them (others being opioid-like peptides which constipate, salicylates which damage mucosal integrity, etc)


    11 March, 2008 at 11:04 pm

  2. Interesting. Your quoted section raised questions, reading the article answered most of them (duh, perhaps a good idea). Only remaining questions: Is gut dysfunction genuinely common in autistics? If so, might this be related to serotonin dysfunction in the GI tract neurones?Peter


    11 March, 2008 at 10:22 pm

  3. Oh, Salicylates=NSAID=open tight junctions! Ping.ThanksPeter


    15 March, 2008 at 7:26 am

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