GABA system dysfunction in autism and related disorders: from synapse to symptoms

Suzanne Coghlan, Jamie Horder, Becky Inkster, M. Andreina Mendez, Declan G. Murphy, David J. Nutt

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

311 Citations (Scopus)


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are neurodevelopmental syndromes characterised by repetitive behaviours and restricted interests, impairments in social behaviour and relations, and in language and communication. These symptoms are also observed in a number of developmental disorders of known origin, including Fragile X Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, and Foetal Anticonvulsant Syndrome. While these conditions have diverse etiologies, and poorly understood pathologies, emerging evidence suggests that they may all be linked to dysfunction in particular aspects of GABAergic inhibitory signalling in the brain. We review evidence from genetics, molecular neurobiology and systems neuroscience relating to the role of GABA in these conditions. We conclude by discussing how these deficits may relate to the specific symptoms observed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)2044-2055
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Brain
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • GABAergic Neurons
  • Humans
  • Neurons
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Synapses
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid


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