A review of the serotonin transporter and prenatal cortisol and in the development of Autism Spectrum disorders
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The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during early childhood has a profound effect not only on young children but on their families. Aside from the physical and behavioural issues that need to be dealt with, there are significant emotional and financial costs associated with living with someone diagnosed with ASD. Understanding how autism occurs will assist in preparing families to deal with ASD, if not preventing or lessening its occurrence. Serotonin plays a vital role in the development of the brain during the prenatal and postnatal periods, yet very little is known about the serotonergic systems that affect children with ASD. This review seeks to provide an understanding of the biochemistry and physiological actions of serotonin and its termination of action through the serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT). Epidemiological studies investigating prenatal conditions that can increase the risk of ASD describe a number of factors which elevate plasma cortisol levels causing such symptoms during pregnancy such as hypertension, gestational diabetes and depression. Because cortisol plays an important role in driving dysregulation of serotonergic signalling through elevating SERT production in the developing brain, it is also necessary to investigate the physiological functions of cortisol, its action during gestation and metabolic syndromes.
Copyright 2013 Rose’Meyer et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Page numbers are not for citation purposes. Instead, this article has the unique article number of 37.
Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences not elsewhere classified