Decreased GABA(B) receptors in the cingulate cortex and fusiform gyrus in autism

J Neurochem. 2010 Sep 1;114(5):1414-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2010.06858.x. Epub 2010 Jun 12.


Autism is a behaviorally defined neurodevelopmental disorder and among its symptoms are disturbances in face and emotional processing. Emerging evidence demonstrates abnormalities in the GABAergic (gamma-aminobutyric acid) system in autism, which likely contributes to these deficits. GABA(B) receptors play an important role in modulating synapses and maintaining the balance of excitation-inhibition in the brain. The density of GABA(B) receptors in subjects with autism and matched controls was quantified in the anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, important for socio-emotional and cognitive processing, and the fusiform gyrus, important for identification of faces and facial expressions. Significant reductions in GABA(B) receptor density were demonstrated in all three regions examined suggesting that alterations in this key inhibitory receptor subtype may contribute to the functional deficits in individuals with autism. Interestingly, the presence of seizure in a subset of autism cases did not have a significant effect on the density of GABA(B) receptors in any of the three regions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism*
  • Autistic Disorder / pathology
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / metabolism*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Receptors, GABA-A / deficiency
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism*
  • Receptors, GABA-B / deficiency*
  • Receptors, GABA-B / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • GABA type B receptor, subunit 1
  • GABRR2 protein, human
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Receptors, GABA-B