Serotonin and aggressive behaviour in children and adolescents: a systematic review

K. C. Runions, H. A. E. Morandini, P. Rao, Janice Wong, N. J. Kolla, G. Pace, S. Mahfouda, C. S. Hildebrandt, R. Stewart, F. D. Zepf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Objective The role of serotonin (5-HT) in human aggression has been the subject of a large number of studies, mostly with adults. Meta-analyses indicate a small but significant inverse relationship between central nervous 5-HT availability and aggression, but genetically informed studies suggest two pathways: one to reactive aggression and the other to proactive aggression. Method We conducted a systemic review on central nervous 5-HT function in children and adolescents, with attention to the function of aggression. Results In total, 675 articles were screened for relevance, with 45 reviewed. These included blood assays (e.g. plasma, 5-HIAA; platelet 5-HTR2A), epigenetic studies, retrospective PET studies and 5-HT challenge paradigms (e.g. tryptophan depletion). Overall, findings were mixed, with support both for negative and for positive associations of central nervous 5-HT function with aggression in children and adolescents. Conclusion We propose factors that may be blurring the picture, including problems in the conceptualization and measurement of aggression in young people, the lack of prospective designs and the bias towards clinical samples of boys. Research needs to account for variance in the both motivation for and implementation of aggression, and look to the behavioural economics literature to consider the roles of reward, vengeance and self-control more clearly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-144
Number of pages28
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Volume139
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Cite this

@article{279d629c43ca44c19e78f84e5f6c3a08,
title = "Serotonin and aggressive behaviour in children and adolescents: a systematic review",
abstract = "Objective The role of serotonin (5-HT) in human aggression has been the subject of a large number of studies, mostly with adults. Meta-analyses indicate a small but significant inverse relationship between central nervous 5-HT availability and aggression, but genetically informed studies suggest two pathways: one to reactive aggression and the other to proactive aggression. Method We conducted a systemic review on central nervous 5-HT function in children and adolescents, with attention to the function of aggression. Results In total, 675 articles were screened for relevance, with 45 reviewed. These included blood assays (e.g. plasma, 5-HIAA; platelet 5-HTR2A), epigenetic studies, retrospective PET studies and 5-HT challenge paradigms (e.g. tryptophan depletion). Overall, findings were mixed, with support both for negative and for positive associations of central nervous 5-HT function with aggression in children and adolescents. Conclusion We propose factors that may be blurring the picture, including problems in the conceptualization and measurement of aggression in young people, the lack of prospective designs and the bias towards clinical samples of boys. Research needs to account for variance in the both motivation for and implementation of aggression, and look to the behavioural economics literature to consider the roles of reward, vengeance and self-control more clearly.",
keywords = "aggression, children, adolescents, serotonin, DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER, PLATELET MONOAMINE-OXIDASE, WHOLE-BLOOD SEROTONIN, RAPID TRYPTOPHAN DEPLETION, DENSE GRANULE SECRETION, H-3 IMIPRAMINE BINDING, CENTRAL-NERVOUS-SYSTEM, PROACTIVE AGGRESSION, CEREBROSPINAL-FLUID",
author = "Runions, {K. C.} and Morandini, {H. A. E.} and P. Rao and Janice Wong and Kolla, {N. J.} and G. Pace and S. Mahfouda and Hildebrandt, {C. S.} and R. Stewart and Zepf, {F. D.}",
year = "2019",
month = "2",
doi = "10.1111/acps.12986",
language = "English",
volume = "139",
pages = "117--144",
journal = "Acta Pyschiatrica Scandinavica",
issn = "0001-690X",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "2",

}

Serotonin and aggressive behaviour in children and adolescents : a systematic review. / Runions, K. C.; Morandini, H. A. E.; Rao, P.; Wong, Janice; Kolla, N. J.; Pace, G.; Mahfouda, S.; Hildebrandt, C. S.; Stewart, R.; Zepf, F. D.

In: Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Vol. 139, No. 2, 02.2019, p. 117-144.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

TY - JOUR

T1 - Serotonin and aggressive behaviour in children and adolescents

T2 - a systematic review

AU - Runions, K. C.

AU - Morandini, H. A. E.

AU - Rao, P.

AU - Wong, Janice

AU - Kolla, N. J.

AU - Pace, G.

AU - Mahfouda, S.

AU - Hildebrandt, C. S.

AU - Stewart, R.

AU - Zepf, F. D.

PY - 2019/2

Y1 - 2019/2

N2 - Objective The role of serotonin (5-HT) in human aggression has been the subject of a large number of studies, mostly with adults. Meta-analyses indicate a small but significant inverse relationship between central nervous 5-HT availability and aggression, but genetically informed studies suggest two pathways: one to reactive aggression and the other to proactive aggression. Method We conducted a systemic review on central nervous 5-HT function in children and adolescents, with attention to the function of aggression. Results In total, 675 articles were screened for relevance, with 45 reviewed. These included blood assays (e.g. plasma, 5-HIAA; platelet 5-HTR2A), epigenetic studies, retrospective PET studies and 5-HT challenge paradigms (e.g. tryptophan depletion). Overall, findings were mixed, with support both for negative and for positive associations of central nervous 5-HT function with aggression in children and adolescents. Conclusion We propose factors that may be blurring the picture, including problems in the conceptualization and measurement of aggression in young people, the lack of prospective designs and the bias towards clinical samples of boys. Research needs to account for variance in the both motivation for and implementation of aggression, and look to the behavioural economics literature to consider the roles of reward, vengeance and self-control more clearly.

AB - Objective The role of serotonin (5-HT) in human aggression has been the subject of a large number of studies, mostly with adults. Meta-analyses indicate a small but significant inverse relationship between central nervous 5-HT availability and aggression, but genetically informed studies suggest two pathways: one to reactive aggression and the other to proactive aggression. Method We conducted a systemic review on central nervous 5-HT function in children and adolescents, with attention to the function of aggression. Results In total, 675 articles were screened for relevance, with 45 reviewed. These included blood assays (e.g. plasma, 5-HIAA; platelet 5-HTR2A), epigenetic studies, retrospective PET studies and 5-HT challenge paradigms (e.g. tryptophan depletion). Overall, findings were mixed, with support both for negative and for positive associations of central nervous 5-HT function with aggression in children and adolescents. Conclusion We propose factors that may be blurring the picture, including problems in the conceptualization and measurement of aggression in young people, the lack of prospective designs and the bias towards clinical samples of boys. Research needs to account for variance in the both motivation for and implementation of aggression, and look to the behavioural economics literature to consider the roles of reward, vengeance and self-control more clearly.

KW - aggression

KW - children

KW - adolescents

KW - serotonin

KW - DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER

KW - OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER

KW - PLATELET MONOAMINE-OXIDASE

KW - WHOLE-BLOOD SEROTONIN

KW - RAPID TRYPTOPHAN DEPLETION

KW - DENSE GRANULE SECRETION

KW - H-3 IMIPRAMINE BINDING

KW - CENTRAL-NERVOUS-SYSTEM

KW - PROACTIVE AGGRESSION

KW - CEREBROSPINAL-FLUID

U2 - 10.1111/acps.12986

DO - 10.1111/acps.12986

M3 - Review article

VL - 139

SP - 117

EP - 144

JO - Acta Pyschiatrica Scandinavica

JF - Acta Pyschiatrica Scandinavica

SN - 0001-690X

IS - 2

ER -