The combined role of serotonin and interleukin-6 as biomarker for autism

Neuroscience. 2015 Jan 22;284:290-296. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.10.011. Epub 2014 Oct 18.


Autism is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction and repetitive behaviors. Diagnosis of autism is currently phenotype based with no reliable laboratory test available to assist clinicians. It has been shown that dysfunction of serotonin (5-HT) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are involved in autism. The goal of this study was to evaluate the combined role of 5-HT and IL-6 as potential biomarkers for autism. The whole blood concentration of 5-HT and plasma concentration of IL-6 of individuals with autism were significantly elevated compared with the control group, and the concentration of 5-HT and IL-6 had positive correlations with the severity of autism. The results of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis indicated that the combination of 5-HT and IL-6 produced the best sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of autism. Therefore, the present study has revealed a simple clinical method with great potential for assisting the diagnosis of autism.

Keywords: autism; biomarker; interleukin-6 (IL-6); serotonin (5-HT).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Area Under Curve
  • Autistic Disorder / blood*
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serotonin / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Serotonin