Pharmacology of autism

Christopher J. McDougle, Kimberly A. Stigler, Craig A. Erickson, David J. Posey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The purpose of this review is to discuss the pharmacology of autistic disorder (autism) and other pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) from the perspective of specific target symptom domains of behavior. Drug treatment strategies directed toward the following target symptom domains are included: motor hyperactivity and inattention; interfering stereotypical and repetitive behavior; aggression and self-injurious behavior (SIB); and the core social impairment of autism and other PDDs. For motor hyperactivity and inattention, studies have indicated that the α2 adrenergic agonists, clonidine and guanfacine, are useful. A placebo-controlled study by the Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology (RUPP) Autism Network found methylphenidate to be efficacious in 49% of subjects with various PDDs for these target symptoms. Preliminary data with the norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor atomoxetine are encouraging. For interfering stereotypical and repetitive behavior, controlled studies of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluvoxamine found the drug to be more efficacious and better tolerated in adults than children with autism and other PDDs. A recent controlled study of low-dose liquid fluoxetine found the drug more efficacious than placebo for interfering repetitive behavior and well tolerated. A large placebo-controlled study of the atypical antipsychotic risperidone found the drug to be efficacious for reducing aggression, SIB and tantrumming in 70% of children with autism and that the response was maintained for up to 6 months. Open-label studies of other atypical antipsychotics are generally encouraging. A small, single-blind study of the glutamatergic agent d-cycloserine showed significant benefit for the social withdrawal of autism. Future directions include studying coactive pharmacological treatment strategies utilizing more than one drug to target more than one target symptom domain in individuals with autism and other PDDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neuroscience Research
Volume6
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2006

Fingerprint

Autistic Disorder
Pharmacology
Hyperkinesis
Self-Injurious Behavior
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Placebos
Aggression
Antipsychotic Agents
Excitatory Amino Acid Agents
Guanfacine
Cycloserine
Fluvoxamine
Single-Blind Method
Psychopharmacology
Adrenergic Agonists
Methylphenidate
Risperidone
Fluoxetine
Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
Clonidine

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Autism
  • Dopamine
  • Glutamate
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

Cite this

McDougle, C. J., Stigler, K. A., Erickson, C. A., & Posey, D. J. (2006). Pharmacology of autism. Clinical Neuroscience Research, 6(3-4), 179-188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cnr.2006.06.012

Pharmacology of autism. / McDougle, Christopher J.; Stigler, Kimberly A.; Erickson, Craig A.; Posey, David J.

In: Clinical Neuroscience Research, Vol. 6, No. 3-4, 10.2006, p. 179-188.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

McDougle, CJ, Stigler, KA, Erickson, CA & Posey, DJ 2006, 'Pharmacology of autism', Clinical Neuroscience Research, vol. 6, no. 3-4, pp. 179-188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cnr.2006.06.012
McDougle CJ, Stigler KA, Erickson CA, Posey DJ. Pharmacology of autism. Clinical Neuroscience Research. 2006 Oct;6(3-4):179-188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cnr.2006.06.012
McDougle, Christopher J. ; Stigler, Kimberly A. ; Erickson, Craig A. ; Posey, David J. / Pharmacology of autism. In: Clinical Neuroscience Research. 2006 ; Vol. 6, No. 3-4. pp. 179-188.
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