Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14(10), 20508-20542; doi:10.3390/ijms141020508
Review

Advances in the Research of Melatonin in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Literature Review and New Perspectives

1 Hospital-University Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Guillaume Régnier Hospital, Rennes 1 University, Rennes 35000, France 2 Laboratory of Psychology of Perception, CNRS UMR 8158, Paris 75270, France 3 Inserm CIC 0203 Clinical Investigation Centre, University Hospital, Rennes 1 University, Rennes 35033, France 4 Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University Hospital, Rennes 1 University, Rennes 35033, France 5 Laboratory of Developmental Neurochemistry, Yale Child Study Center, New Haven, CT 06519, USA 6 Department of Laboratory Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06519, USA 7 Hospital-University Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Pitié-SalpétrièreHospital, Paris 6 University, Paris 75013, France 8 CIC INSERM U 802, CHU de Poitiers, Unité de recherche clinique intersectorielle en psychiatrie du Centre Hospitalier Henri Laborit, Poitiers 86022, France 9 INSERM UMR U978, University of Paris 13, Bobigny 93009, France 10 Laboratoire de Biochimie et Biologie Moléculaire, Hôpital Avicenne, APHP, Bobigny 93009, France 11 Service Hospitalo-Universitaire de Psychiatrie de l'Enfant et de l'Adolescent de Brest, UBO, Brest 29238, France 12 Maison Départementale de l’Adolescent et Centre Médico-Psycho-Pédagogique, Conseil Général des Bouches-du-Rhône, Laboratoire de Santé Publique EA3279, Faculté de Médecine de la Timone, Marseille 13256, France
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 August 2013; in revised form: 3 September 2013 / Accepted: 13 September 2013 / Published: 14 October 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Research of Melatonin)
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Abstract: Abnormalities in melatonin physiology may be involved or closely linked to the pathophysiology and behavioral expression of autistic disorder, given its role in neurodevelopment and reports of sleep-wake rhythm disturbances, decreased nocturnal melatonin production, and beneficial therapeutic effects of melatonin in individuals with autism. In addition, melatonin, as a pineal gland hormone produced from serotonin, is of special interest in autistic disorder given reported alterations in central and peripheral serotonin neurobiology. More specifically, the role of melatonin in the ontogenetic establishment of circadian rhythms and the synchronization of peripheral oscillators opens interesting perspectives to ascertain better the mechanisms underlying the significant relationship found between lower nocturnal melatonin excretion and increased severity of autistic social communication impairments, especially for verbal communication and social imitative play. In this article, first we review the studies on melatonin levels and the treatment studies of melatonin in autistic disorder. Then, we discuss the relationships between melatonin and autistic behavioral impairments with regard to social communication (verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction), and repetitive behaviors or interests with difficulties adapting to change. In conclusion, we emphasize that randomized clinical trials in autism spectrum disorders are warranted to establish potential therapeutic efficacy of melatonin for social communication impairments and stereotyped behaviors or interests.
Keywords: melatonin; biological clocks; circadian rhythm; synchrony; autism spectrum disorders; social communication; stereotyped behaviors

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MDPI and ACS Style

Tordjman, S.; Najjar, I.; Bellissant, E.; Anderson, G.M.; Barburoth, M.; Cohen, D.; Jaafari, N.; Schischmanoff, O.; Fagard, R.; Lagdas, E.; Kermarrec, S.; Ribardiere, S.; Botbol, M.; Fougerou, C.; Bronsard, G.; Vernay-Leconte, J. Advances in the Research of Melatonin in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Literature Review and New Perspectives. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14, 20508-20542.

AMA Style

Tordjman S, Najjar I, Bellissant E, Anderson GM, Barburoth M, Cohen D, Jaafari N, Schischmanoff O, Fagard R, Lagdas E, Kermarrec S, Ribardiere S, Botbol M, Fougerou C, Bronsard G, Vernay-Leconte J. Advances in the Research of Melatonin in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Literature Review and New Perspectives. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2013; 14(10):20508-20542.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Tordjman, Sylvie; Najjar, Imen; Bellissant, Eric; Anderson, George M.; Barburoth, Marianne; Cohen, David; Jaafari, Nemat; Schischmanoff, Olivier; Fagard, Rémi; Lagdas, Enas; Kermarrec, Solenn; Ribardiere, Sophie; Botbol, Michel; Fougerou, Claire; Bronsard, Guillaume; Vernay-Leconte, Julie. 2013. "Advances in the Research of Melatonin in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Literature Review and New Perspectives." Int. J. Mol. Sci. 14, no. 10: 20508-20542.

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