N-acetylcysteine as an Adjunctive Therapy to Risperidone for Treatment of Irritability in Autism: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial of Efficacy and Safety

Clin Neuropharmacol. Jan-Feb 2015;38(1):11-7. doi: 10.1097/WNF.0000000000000063.

Abstract

Objectives: According to the proposed interference of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) with pathophysiologic processes of autistic disorders (ADs), we aimed to assess the effectiveness and safety of NAC as an adjunct to risperidone in the treatment of ADs in a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial.

Methods: The participants were referred outpatients between 4 and 12 years of age with the diagnosis of ADs and a score of more than 12 on Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Community (ABC-C) Irritability subscale score. The participants were randomized into 2 groups. One group received risperidone plus NAC, and the other group received risperidone plus placebo. The dose of risperidone was titrated between 1 and 2.0 mg/d, and the dose of NAC was 600 to 900 mg/d. The main outcome was mean decrease in the ABC-C irritability subscale score from baseline at 5 and 10 weeks. Changes in other subscales were considered as secondary outcome measures.

Results: Forty patients completed the 10-week trial. Baseline characteristics including age, sex and body weight, as well as baseline scores in 5 subscales did not demonstrate statistically significant difference between the 2 groups. Repeated-measures analysis showed significant effect for time × treatment interaction in irritability (P = 0.01) and hyperactivity/noncompliance (P = 0.02) subscales. By week 10, the NAC group showed significantly more reduction in irritability (P = 0.02) and hyperactivity/noncompliance (P = 0.01) subscales scores.

Conclusions: N-acetylcysteine can be considered as an adjuvant therapy for ADs with beneficial therapeutic outcomes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / therapeutic use*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Autistic Disorder / drug therapy
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Free Radical Scavengers / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Mood / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risperidone / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome

Substances

  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Risperidone
  • Acetylcysteine