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Effects of Adding Large Doses of Arachidonic Acid to Docosahexaenoic Acid on Social Impairment in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a cluster of developmental disorders, whose core symptoms can be attributed to abnormal development of the large-scale neural networks required for social communication. The impaired delivery of afferent signals has been proposed to be associated with impaired social interaction in ASD. Arachidonic acid (ARA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) play key roles in the maturation of brain network. In particular, ARA promotes signal transduction related to neural function. It is therefore possible that supplementation with larger ARA doses added to DHA may mitigate the impaired social interaction observed in ASD. There have been no double-blind randomized placebo-controlled studies of the effect of large doses of ARA, added to DHA, on the impaired social interactions observed in ASD. This article presents the results of a 16-week double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial in which high-dose ARA was added to DHA supplementation in individuals with ASD (n=13). The primary outcomes were measured using the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) and the secondary outcome measure was Autism Diagnostic Interview-revised (ADI-R) social and communication domains. Supplementation of larger doses of ARA added to DHA significantly improved SRS-measured communication and ADI-measured social communication. At the end of trial, the increase in plasma ARA levels from the baseline observed in the ARA treatment group was significantly higher compared to placebo group.
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Keywords: Autism spectrum disorders; arachidonic acid; clinical trial; dietary supplementation; impaired social interaction; signal transduction

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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  • Current Psychopharmacology publishes peer-reviewed expert review articles and single topic guest edited issues on all aspects of pre-clinical and clinical research in psychopharmacology. The journal aims to be the leading forum for expert review articles in the field. The journal also accepts high-level original research articles on outstanding topics of preclinical and clinical psychopharmacology. Data must be published for the first time in Current Psychopharmacology.
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