Research Article| Volume 30, ISSUE 2, P121-130, July 15, 1991

Platelet 5-HT2 serotonin receptor binding sites in autistic children and their first-degree relatives

  • Bruce D. Perry
    Address reprint request to Bruce D. Perry, Ph.D., Laboratory of Developmental Neurosciences, Department of Psychiatry Box 411, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637.
    Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
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  • Edwin H. Cook Jr.
    Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
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  • Bennett L. Leventhal
    Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
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  • Mark S. Wainwright
    Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
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  • Daniel X. Freedman
    Neuropsychitric Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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  • Author Footnotes
    ∗ The autors would like to thank the local chapters of the National Society for Autistic Citizens and the families participating in the present studies. Dr. Judith Wopner provided laboratory facilities for samples collected and processed in Indianapolis.Domenico Vigilante and Zheng L: provided expert technical assistance. Technical support was provided by Erik Kupperman, Joseph Cuenco, Grace Lay, and Steve Dayan. Matthew Leventhal assisted in blood collection.
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      We examined platelet serotonin2 [5-hydroxytryptamine2 (5-HT2)] receptor binding sites, whole blood serotonin (5-HT), and plasma norepinephrine (NE) in male autistic children and their first-degree relatives. Saturation studies utilizing 125I-spiroperidol labeled the 5-HT2 sites with an affinity of 224.6 ± 84.4 pmol/L (Kd). No group differences, i.e., autistic (n = 12), siblings (n = 6), parents (n = 22), control (adult; n = 7: child; n = 10), were seen for either the Kd or the total number of sites (Bmax: 14.3 ± 10.9 fmol/mg protein). No correlations were found in any group between binding parameters (Kd or Bmax) and whole blood 5-HT. For the parental group, inverse correlations were found between NE and Bmax standing NE,rs = − 0.67, n = 21, p = 0.001; supine NE, rs = − 0.49, n = 22, p = 0.021). In the autistic group, no correlation was seen between plasma NE and Bmax. A correlation between the autistic boys' Bmax and their fathers' Bmax was observed (rs = 0.79, n = 11, p = 0.004). These findings suggest
      • 1.
        (1) circulating NE may be involved in heterologous regulation of 5-HT2 receptors in the platelet and
      • 2.
        (2) genetic (paternal-filial) factors may play a role in the expression of 5-HT2 binding sites in the platelet.
      These preliminary findings are discussed in relation to heterologous receptors regulation. The relationships between these findings and either the pathophysiology of autism or hyperserotonemia in autism are unknown.
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