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Pharmacological Therapy that May Reduce Autistic Behaviors

April 11, 2016 3:00 pm Published by

monegroarticleThere is a hypothesis that the autistic disorder may result from an imbalance between excitatory glutamatergic and inhibitory GABAergic pathways. Some studies have investigated the potential role of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) modulators such as valproate (Depakote), Acamprosate (Campral), and Arbaclofen (Brondine 2016); Memantine (Namenda) and Minocycline (Minocin) (Kumar & Sharma, 2016).

Depakote is an anticonvulsant medication. Acamprosate (Campral) is a GABA analog indicated for maintenance of alcohol abstinence. Arbaclofen is a derivate of Baclofen, a skeletal muscle relaxant. Bumetanide (Burnex) is a chloride co-transporter NKCC1 antagonist diuretic which can reduce intracellular concentration of chloride in neurons. Dipeptide L-carnosine acts by reducing zinc and copper influx near GABA receptors. Riluzole (Rilutex) is used for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Kumar and Sharma (2016) have studied the role of Minocycline and Memantine to reduce maladaptive behaviors. Minocycline is a tetracycline indicated to treat inflammatory lesions. Memantine is used for the treatment of moderate to severe dementia. While the authors did not study its effect specifically in Autistic subjects, they were able to demonstrate that Minocycline and Memantine reduced locomotion, anxiety, brain oxidative and nitrosative stress, inflammation, calcium and blood brain barrier permeability when these symptoms were induced by Valproic acid.

All of the above medications are not yet approved by the FDA for treatment of autism, although they may have potential off label use for autistic individuals.




Francisco Monegro MD., PhD., currently serves as the residential Clinical Director of adult services programs at QSAC. He is also a consultant on autism for the PSCH clinic and the Shield Institute. Dr. Monegro received his MD/PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Santo Domingo/University of Kansas. In 1988, he received a diploma from the American Board of Medical Psychotherapists, Nashville, and from the International Academy of Behavioral Medicine, Counseling and Psychotherapy, Dallas, TX.


QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.

QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.