Secretin and autism: A basic morphological study about the distribution of secretin in the nervous system

Katalin Köves, Mária Kausz, Diana Reser, György Illyés, József Takács, Andrea Heinzlmann, Eszter Gyenge, Károly Horváth

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27 Citations (Scopus)


For the first time, the relationship between secretin and autism has been demonstrated by one of us. Intravenous administration of secretin in autistic children caused a fivefold higher pancreaticobiliary fluid secretion than in healthy ones and, at least in some of the patients, better mental functions were reported after the secretin test. Because the precise localization of secretin in the brain is still not completely known, the abovementioned observation led us to map secretin immunoreactivity in the nervous system of several mammalian species. In the present work, the distribution of secretin immunoreactivity in cat and human nervous systems was compared with that of rats using an immunohistochemical approach. Secretin immunoreactivity was observed in the following brain structures of both humans and in colchicine-treated rats: (1) Purkinje cells in the cerebellar cortex; (2) central cerebellar nuclei; (3) pyramidal cells in the motor cortex; and (4) primary sensory neurons. Additionally, secretin immnoreactive cells were observed in the human hippocampus and amygdala and in third-order sensory neurons of the rat auditory system. In cats, secretin was only observed in the spinal ganglia. Our findings support the view that secretin is not only a gastrointestinal peptide but that it is also a neuropeptide. Its presence or the lack of its presence may have a role in the development of behavioral disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-216
Number of pages8
JournalRegulatory Peptides
Issue number1-3 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2004



  • Cat
  • Human
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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