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August 1985

Endorphin Activity in Childhood PsychosisSpinal Fluid Levels in 24 Cases

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Child and Youth Psychiatry and Handicap Research, University of Göteborg (Sweden) (Dr Gillberg); and the Department of Pharmacology, Biomedical Center (Dr Terenius) and the Department of Pediatrics (Dr Lönnerholm), University of Uppsala (Sweden).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(8):780-783. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790310042005

• Twenty 2- to 13-year-old infantile autistic children (16 boys and four girls) and four 4- to 13-year-old children (two boys and two girls) with other kinds of childhood psychoses were compared with eight 6-month-old to 6-year-old normal children with regard to cerebrospinal fluid contents of endorphin fractions I and II. The psychosis groups showed higher mean cerebrospinal fluid endorphin fraction II levels, and 11 (55%) of the 20 autistic patients showed values higher than the highest in the group of normal children. There was a trend toward a correlation between high fraction II levels and self-destructiveness and decreased pain sensibility in the psychotic children. The results are regarded as preliminary but as warranting further research in this potentially fruitful field.