Vol. 7, No. 3, 2001 Page 7

Pedophilia: evidence of serotonin system abnormalities

Serotonin levels appear to play a role in depression, kleptomania, compulsive gambling, and even violent suicide—and a Dutch study suggests that pedophilia should be added to the list.

Michael Maes and colleagues administered the drug meta-chlorophenylpiperazine (mCPP) to pedophiliac subjects and controls, and measured the change in cortisol levels—an indirect measure of the function of the serotonergic system— in response.

"The mCPP-induced cortisol responses were significantly greater in pedophiles than in normal volunteers," Maes et al. note. In addition, mCPP caused a rise in temperature in controls, but not in pedophiles, and pedophiles noted different physical and behavioral reactions to the mCPP challenge than controls reported.

"The results suggest that there are several serotonergic disturbances in pedophiles," the researchers say. They theorize that these disturbances may involve decreased activity of the serotonergic presynaptic neuron and postsynaptic receptor hyper-responsitivity.


"Lower baseline plasma cortisol and prolactin together with increased body temperature and higher mCPP-induced cortisol responses in men with pedophilia," M. Maes, D. van West, N. De Vos, H. Westenberg, F. Van Hunsel, D. Hendriks, P. Cosyns, and S. Scharpe, Neuropsychopharmacology, Vol. 24, No. 1, January 2001, pp. 37-46. Address: M. Maes, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands, michael.maes@pn.unimaas.nl.

Related Article: [2003, Vol. 1]


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