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Article |

Hyperserotonemia and Amine Metabolites in Autistic and Retarded Children

Henry G. Hanley, MD; Stephen M. Stahl, MD, PhD; Daniel X. Freedman, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1977;34(5):521-531. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1977.01770170031002.
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• Mean whole blood serotonin (5-HT) levels were elevated in groups of autistic and severely retarded children. Eight of 27 (30%) individual autistic children, 13 of 25 (52%) severely retarded children, two of 23 (9%) mildly retarded children, and none of the control children had statistically significant blood 5HT levels elevations (hyperserotonemia). Hyperserotonemic autistic children excreted more urinary 5-HT, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), tryptamine, and vanillylmandelic acid than did mildly retarded children with normal blood 5-HT levels. Rates of depletion and repletion of blood 5-HT levels in these two groups following reserpine therapy were identical. Oral tryptophan administration doubled urinary 5-HIAA excretion in both groups and raised urinary 5-HT levels in hyperserotonemic autistic children, but lowered urinary 5-HT in mildly retarded, normal blood 5-HT children. No clear mechanism for hyperserotonemia was found; the rationale for further investigations is discussed.


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