Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by dysfunction in three primary behavioural domains: repetitive behaviours, social deficits, and language abnormalities. There is evidence that abnormalities exist in the serotonin (5-HT) system in autism spectrum patients. Furthermore, 5-HT is known to play a role in repetitive and social behaviours. This study examined the effect of m-chlorophenylpiperazine (m-CPP) on repetitive behaviours and prolactin response in 11 adults with autism or Asperger's disorder and 8 age- and gender-matched healthy controls via randomized double-blind, m-CPP and placebo challenges. The primary outcome measure was an instrument rating six repetitive behaviours: need to know, repeating, ordering, need to tell/ask, self-injury, and touching. Patients with autism spectrum disorders showed a significant increase in repetitive behaviours at end-point following oral m-CPP in comparison to placebo. Additionally subjects with autism spectrum disorders showed a significantly increased prolactin response to m-CPP compared to normal controls, with neither group responding to placebo. This study provides further evidence for altered 5-HT sensitivity in individuals with autism spectrum disorders, as well as a possible relationship between repetitive behaviours in autism spectrum disorders and abnormalities in the 5-HT system.
- Asperger's disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviours
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology (medical)