Serotonin and externalizing behavior in young children

R. Adrian Clarke, Dennis L. Murphy, John N. Constantino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Considerable evidence suggests that there is a relationship between pathologic aggressive behavior and low cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5- HIAA) in both humans and non-human primates. The purpose of this investigation is to examine the relationship between CSF concentrations of human newborn 5-HIAA and subsequent aggressive behavior observed at 30 months of age. Leftover portions of culture negative CSF drawn from febrile infants (age, birth to 3 months) were assayed for 5-HIAA. Family environment and child behavior were assessed at 30 months by parent report. Subjects with 5- HIAA levels below the median of the distribution had higher externalizing behavior SCores at 30 months than did subjects whose 5-HIAA levels fell above the median (P = 0.02). While it is likely that serotonin mediates one component of genetic liability to antisocial outcome, the magnitude of that component may be less than what has been inferred from previously published reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 19 1999


  • 5-Hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA)
  • Aggression
  • Family environment


Dive into the research topics of 'Serotonin and externalizing behavior in young children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this