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Targeting brain serotonin synthesis: insights into neurodevelopmental disorders with long-term outcomes related to negative emotionality, aggression and antisocial behaviour.

Division of Molecular Psychiatry (MP), Laboratory of Translational Neuroscience (LTN), Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy, University of Wuerzburg, , Fuechsleinstrasse 15, 97080 Wuerzburg, Germany.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 6.23). 09/2012; 367(1601):2426-43. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0039
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Aggression, which comprises multi-faceted traits ranging from negative emotionality to antisocial behaviour, is influenced by an interaction of biological, psychological and social variables. Failure in social adjustment, aggressiveness and violence represent the most detrimental long-term outcome of neurodevelopmental disorders. With the exception of brain-specific tryptophan hydroxylase-2 (Tph2), which generates serotonin (5-HT) in raphe neurons, the contribution of gene variation to aggression-related behaviour in genetically modified mouse models has been previously appraised (Lesch 2005 Novartis Found Symp. 268, 111-140; Lesch & Merschdorf 2000 Behav. Sci. Law 18, 581-604). Genetic inactivation of Tph2 function in mice led to the identification of phenotypic changes, ranging from growth retardation and late-onset obesity, to enhanced conditioned fear response, increased aggression and depression-like behaviour. This spectrum of consequences, which are amplified by stress-related epigenetic interactions, are attributable to deficient brain 5-HT synthesis during development and adulthood. Human data relating altered TPH2 function to personality traits of negative emotionality and neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by deficits in cognitive control and emotion regulation are based on genetic association and are therefore not as robust as the experimental mouse results. Mouse models in conjunction with approaches focusing on TPH2 variants in humans provide unexpected views of 5-HT's role in brain development and in disorders related to negative emotionality, aggression and antisocial behaviour.

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