Serotonin transporter genotype and neuroanatomy in autism spectrum disorders

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There is increasing evidence that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have abnormalities in the serotonergic system. For example, a functional polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene promoter region (5HTTLPR long/short polymorphism) has been reported to confer risk for ASDs, and to affect cortical grey matter volume in young children. However, the persistence of this association later in development is unknown. Hence, we investigated whether variation in the 5HTTLPR long/short polymorphism modulates brain anatomy in older people with ASD. We related 5HTTLPR long/short polymorphism in 43 adolescents and adults with ASD to brain anatomy using structural magnetic resonance imaging and voxel-based morphometry. There were no significant associations between brain anatomy and genotype. When considered alongside evidence of a relationship between 5HTTLPR genotype and brain volume amongst children with autism, our findings raise the possibility that the relationship between 5HTTLPR polymorphism and brain anatomy in ASDs anatomy may differ as a function of age and/or ASD subdiagnosis.

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