Serotonin function and risk for alcoholism in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Kurt P. Schulz, Kathleen E. McKay, Jeffrey H. Newcorn, Vanshdeep Sharma, Stephen Gabriel, Jeffrey M. Halperin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Data in animals and adults indicate that central serotonergic (5-HT) function may be involved in the development of alcohol abuse. Despite this, studies exploring this mechanism in individuals at risk for alcoholism are scant. This study used a fenfluramine (FEN) challenge procedure to investigate the relationship between risk for alcoholism and 5-HT function in 7- to 11-year-old boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The prolactin (PRL) and cortisol (CORT) responses to FEN were examined in 10 sons of alcoholic fathers (FA+) and 30 sons of nonalcoholic fathers (FA-). The FA+ group had a significantly greater CORT, but not PRL, response to FEN relative to the FA- group. The discrepancy between the CORT and PRL responses may be due to the different mechanisms that underlie their 5-HT stimulated release. This suggests that, among ADHD boys, those at familial risk for alcohol abuse may differ from those who are not at risk in 5-HT function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998


  • ADHD
  • Alcoholism
  • Children
  • Fenfluramine
  • Serotonin


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