Autistic children and their first-degree relatives: Relationships between serotonin and norepinephrine levels and intelligence

E. H. Cook, B. L. Leventhal, W. Heller, J. Metz, M. Wainwright, D. X. Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Whole-blood serotonin (5-HT) and plasma norepinephrine (NE) were studied in 16 autistic children, 21 siblings of autistic children, and 53 parents of autistic children. Both plasma NE and whole-blood 5-HT were negatively correlated with vocabulary performance. Whole-blood 5-HT and plasma NE did not differ between autistic children with or without histories of self-injurious behavior or decreased pain sensitivity. Eighteen subjects were hyperserotonemic (whole-blood 5-HT > 270 ng/ml). For these subjects, plasma NE was significantly higher than for subjects without hyperserotonemia. Seven of 10 families with one hyperserotonemic member had two or more hyperserotonemic members. Observations of familiality of whole-blood 5-HT suggest that larger-scale and more focused study of whole-blood 5-HT as a possible genetic marker may be productive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-274
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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