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Memantine as adjunctive treatment to risperidone in children with autistic disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Ali Ghaleiha, Mahtab Asadabadi, Mohammad-Reza Mohammadi, Maryam Shahei, Mina Tabrizi, Reza Hajiaghaee, Elmira Hassanzadeh, Shahin Akhondzadeh
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1461145712000880 783-789 First published online: 1 May 2013


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes significant impairment in socialization and communication. It is also associated with ritualistic and stereotypical behaviour. Recent studies propose both hyper-and hypoglutamatergic ideologies for autism. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of memantine plus risperidone in the treatment of children with autism. Children with autism were randomly allocated to risperidone plus memantine or placebo plus risperidone for a 10-wk, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The dose of risperidone was titrated up to 3 mg/d and memantine was titrated to 20 mg/d. Children were assessed at baseline and after 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 wk of starting medication protocol. The primary outcome measure was the irritability subscale of Aberrant Behavior Checklist–Community (ABC-C). Difference between the two treatment arms was significant as the group that received memantine had greater reduction in ABC-C subscale scores for irritability, stereotypic behaviour and hyperactivity. Eight side-effects were observed over the trial, out of the 25 side-effects that the checklist included. The difference between the two groups in the frequency of side-effects was not significant. The present study suggests that memantine may be a potential adjunctive treatment strategy for autism and it was generally well tolerated. This trial is registered with the Iranian Clinical Trials Registry (IRCT1138901151556N10; www.irct.ir)

Key words
  • Autism
  • glutamate
  • memantine
  • NMDA
  • trial
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