Author(s): Oberman LM
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Abstract INTRODUCTION: The CDC currently estimates the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at 1 in 88 children. Though the exact etiology of ASD is unknown, recent studies implicate synaptic maturation and plasticity in the pathogenesis of ASD leading to an imbalance of excitation and inhibition, and specifically a disproportionately high level of excitation. Pharmacological agents that modulate excitation and inhibition are currently in clinical trials for treatment of ASD and show promising preliminary results. AREAS COVERED: This paper reviews the literature implicating the role of glutamate and GABA pathways in the pathophysiology of ASD. It also provides a review of the current results from both animal models and human clinical trials of drugs aimed at normalizing the imbalance of excitation and inhibition through the use of metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) antagonists and GABA agonists. EXPERT OPINION: Both mGluR antagonists and GABA agonists have promising preliminary data from animal model and small-scale Phase II human trials. They show significant efficacy in subpopulations and appear to have favorable side-effect profiles. Though preliminary data are extremely promising, results from ongoing larger, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies will give a more complete understanding of the efficacy and side-effect profile related to these drugs.
This article was published in Expert Opin Investig Drugs
and referenced in Autism-Open Access