Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New treatment for irritability in autism

Date:
May 31, 2012
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects social and communication skills. Irritability is a symptom of autism that can complicate adjustment at home and other settings, and can manifest itself in aggression, tantrums, and self-injurious behavior. These disruptive behaviors are frequently observed in children with autism, which may considerably affect their ability to function at home or in school. Researchers now suggest a possible new treatment.

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects social and communication skills. Irritability is a symptom of autism that can complicate adjustment at home and other settings, and can manifest itself in aggression, tantrums, and self-injurious behavior. These disruptive behaviors are frequently observed in children with autism, which may considerably affect their ability to function at home or in school.

Related Articles


N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdoses, but it may have other applications related to its effects in the brain. NAC helps maintain and restore glutathione, which play a key role in the antioxidant defense system. Additionally, cysteine as supplied by NAC treatment, stimulates a protein, the cystine-glutamate antiporter, resulting in the decrease of glutamatergic neurotransmission.

NAC has two resulting effects:

1) it may protect brain cells by raising the level of a protective antioxidant metabolite called glutathione, and

2) it may reduce the excitability of the glutamate system by stimulating inhibitory receptors.

These drug actions are important because, although the causes of autism are unknown, it is clear that there are many influencing factors and scientists are pursuing multiple hypotheses. Two in particular relate to NAC: one theory is that autism may be caused by an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants in the body; the other is that the glutamate system may be dysfunctional in individuals with autism.

These hypotheses led researchers at Stanford University and the Cleveland Clinic to conduct a pilot trial of NAC in children with autistic disorder. Children were randomized to receive either NAC or placebo daily for 12 weeks and their symptoms were evaluated four times during that period.

They found that irritability was significantly decreased in the children who received NAC. In addition, NAC was well-tolerated and caused minimal side effects.

Lead author Dr. Antonio Hardan commented, "Data from this preliminary trial suggest that NAC has the potential to be helpful in targeting irritability in children with autism. It is also unclear if NAC improves other symptom domains in autism."

"At this point it is too early to tell how NAC reduced irritability in autism, but this finding will be an important addition to the field if it can be replicated," said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, where the study is being published.

Dr. Hardan agreed, adding that "large randomized controlled trials are needed to attempt to replicate the findings from this pilot trial and to determine whether or not NAC is effective in targeting other symptoms observed in autism such as repetitive and restricted interests." This small pilot study was the first step and so the next stages of work can now begin to determine whether NAC could potentially become an approved treatment for autism.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Antonio Y. Hardan, Lawrence K. Fung, Robin A. Libove, Tetyana V. Obukhanych, Surekha Nair, Leonore A. Herzenberg, Thomas W. Frazier, Rabindra Tirouvanziam. A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of Oral N-Acetylcysteine in Children with Autism. Biological Psychiatry, 2012; 71 (11): 956 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.01.014

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "New treatment for irritability in autism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120531102107.htm>.
Elsevier. (2012, May 31). New treatment for irritability in autism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120531102107.htm
Elsevier. "New treatment for irritability in autism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120531102107.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Antioxidant Shows Promise as Treatment for Certain Features of Autism

May 29, 2012 A specific antioxidant supplement may be an effective therapy for some features of autism, according to a pilot trial that involved 31 children with the ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins