Christopher J McDougle

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (290)1655.37 Total impact

  • Noha F Minshawi, Sarah Hurwitz, Danielle Morriss, Christopher J McDougle
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this review is to consider the psychological (largely behavioral) and biological [neurochemical, medical (including genetic), and pharmacological] theories and approaches that contribute to current thinking about the etiology and treatment of self-injurious behavior (SIB) in individuals with autism spectrum disorder and/or intellectual disability. Algorithms for the assessment and treatment of SIB in this context, respectively, from a multidisciplinary, integrative perspective are proposed and challenges and opportunities that exist in clinical and research settings are discussed.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 11/2014; · 3.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A role for immunological involvement in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has long been hypothesized. This review includes four sections describing (1) evidence for a relationship between familial autoimmune disorders and ASD; (2) results from post-mortem and neuroimaging studies that investigated aspects of neuroinflammation in ASD; (3) findings from animal model work in ASD involving inflammatory processes; and (4) outcomes from trials of anti-inflammatory/immunemodulating drugs in ASD that have appeared in the literature. Following each section, ideas are provided for future research, suggesting paths forward in the continuing effort to define the role of immune factors and inflammation in the pathophysiology of a subtype of ASD.
    Brain Research 11/2014; · 2.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Peripubertal boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have lower bone mineral density (BMD) than typically developing controls. However, it is not clear whether lower BMD in ASD results in an increased fracture rate. This study examined the rate of fractures in children and adults with and without ASD using a national database of emergency room visits (Nationwide Emergency Department Sample). A higher odds ratio for hip fractures in children and young adults (3-22 years) as well as older adults (23-50 years) with ASD than those without ASD, and a higher odds ratio for forearm and spine fractures in women ages 23-50 with ASD were found. Further studies are necessary to better understand the decreased bone density in ASD and its implications for fracture development.
    Journal of autism and developmental disorders. 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of the study was to characterize the phenotype of males and females with autism spectrum disorder born preterm versus those born at term. Descriptive statistical analyses identified differences between male and female autism spectrum disorder subjects born preterm compared to term for several phenotypic characteristics and comorbidities. Of the 115 (13.0% of 883) born preterm, a greater percentage of males had sleep apnea (13.8% vs 2.5%, p < 0.0001), seizure disorders (17.0% vs 8.5%, p = 0.01), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (14.9% vs 6.6%, p = 0.005). Females born preterm were more likely to be nonverbal (22.2% vs 4.6%, p = 0.001). In summary, phenotypic differences were observed, especially among males. The results may have implications for understanding the underpinnings of a subset of individuals with autism spectrum disorder and contribute to the development of focused treatments for autism spectrum disorder among children born preterm.
    Autism 09/2014; · 2.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding of the pathophysiology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remains limited. Brain overgrowth has been hypothesized to be associated with the development of ASD. A derivative of amyloid-β precursor protein (APP), secreted APPα (sAPPα), has neuroproliferative effects and has been shown to be elevated in the plasma of persons with ASD compared to control subjects. Reduction in sAPPα holds promise as a novel molecular target of treatment in ASD. Research into the neurochemistry of ASD has repeatedly implicated excessive glutamatergic and deficient GABAergic neurotransmission in the disorder. With this in mind, acamprosate, a novel modulator of glutamate and GABA function, has been studied in ASD. No data is available on the impact of glutamate or GABA modulation on sAPPα function.
    Journal of Psychiatric Research 08/2014; · 4.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: No drugs are FDA approved for use targeting the core social impairment of autism and related pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). Glutamatergic dysregulation is implicated in the pathophysiology of PDDs, now termed ASD. D-Cycloserine (DCS) is FDA approved for the treatment of tuberculosis and the drug is known to impact NMDA glutamate receptor neurotransmission. DCS has been shown to potentiate learning when given prior to therapy sessions in the anxiety disorder literature. Objectives: We evaluated the efficacy of DCS given 30 minutes prior to peer mediated social skills training (SST) in youth aged 5 to 11 years with ASD. Methods: We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of low dose (50mg) DCS given prior to manualized SST in 68 children aged 5 to 11 years with ASD over 10 weekly sessions. SST sessions each included 4 youth with ASD and 2 age-matched typically developing peers trainers along with two clinician group facilitators. In addition to evaluating primary and secondary outcome measures after 10 weeks of SST, we additionally conducted a follow up evaluation for each participants 3 months following the SST. Participants with ASD were required to have a full scale IQ greater than 70, meet DSM IV-TR criteria for autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) based upon clinical interview and results from the Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised (ADI-R) and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Our primary outcome measure was the total score on the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS). Key secondary outcome measures included the Clinical Global Impresisons Improvement (CGI-I) and Severity (CGI-S) scales, the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, 4th Edition, and the Vineland-II. We additionally compiled structure observational behavioral data coding with each session to track potential change with treatment throughout the SST. Results: Sixty-eight youth were enrolled in this trial. The results will be available in Spring 2014. Top line results reviewing the primary and key secondary outcome measures will be reported for the drug versus placebo groups in May 2014. Conclusions: Preliminary conclusions will be generated following the dissemination of top line results in May 2014.
    2014 International Meeting for Autism Research; 05/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Aggression, self-injurious behavior, and severe tantrums are impairing symptoms frequently experienced by individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Despite US Food and Drug Administration approval of two atypical antipsychotics targeting these symptoms in youth with autistic disorder, they remain frequently drug refractory. We define drug-refractory aggression, self-injurious behavior, and severe tantrums in people with autism spectrum disorders as behavioral symptoms requiring medication adjustment despite previous trials of risperidone and aripiprazole or previous trials of three psychotropic drugs targeting the symptom cluster, one of which was risperidone or aripiprazole. We reviewed the medical records of individuals of all ages referred to our clinic for autism spectrum disorder diagnostic evaluation, as well as pharmacotherapy follow-up notes for all people meeting autism spectrum disorder criteria, for drug-refractory symptoms. Among 250 consecutively referred individuals, 135 met autism spectrum disorder and enrollment criteria, and 53 of these individuals met drug-refractory symptom criteria. Factors associated with drug-refractory symptoms included age 12 years or older (p < 0.0001), diagnosis of autistic disorder (p = 0.0139), and presence of intellectual disability (p = 0.0273). This pilot report underscores the significance of drug-refractory aggression, self-injurious behavior, and severe tantrums; suggests the need for future study clarifying factors related to symptom development; and identifies the need for focused treatment study of this impairing symptom domain.
    Autism 02/2014; · 2.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess change in body mass index (BMI) and age- and gender-adjusted BMI Z-score in subjects ages 2-20 years with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), who were treated longitudinally with risperidone or aripiprazole at a tertiary care ASD clinic. Method: As part of a larger project involving longitudinal drug treatment data in ASD, detailed demographic and treatment data were collected for 142 subjects ages 2-20 years who had been started on risperidone or aripiprazole for treatment of irritability. Mean age at start of treatment, treatment duration, final Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement Scale score, BMI change per year of treatment, and BMI Z-score change per year of treatment (primary outcome measure) were calculated for each drug treatment group. Group means were compared using t tests and Wilcoxon rank sum tests. Results: There was a statistically significant BMI and BMI Z-score increase in the risperidone and aripiprazole treatment groups individually. No statistically significant difference between the two treatment groups was noted in mean BMI change per year of treatment or BMI Z-score change per year of treatment. Conclusions: In our review of long-term naturalistic treatment of irritability using risperidone versus aripiprazole in persons with ASD, a significant increase in both BMI and age- and gender-adjusted BMI Z-score was noted for each treatment group. No significant difference in BMI or BMI Z-score change was noted when the two treatment groups were compared. We conclude that in our patient population at a tertiary care ASD clinic, the effects of risperidone and aripiprazole on body weight gain in naturalistic long-term treatment are no different.
    Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology 02/2014; · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Williams syndrome is a relatively rare genetic disorder caused by the hemizygous microdeletion of a region in chromosome 7q11.23. Individuals with Williams syndrome typically present with a highly social, overfriendly, and empathic personality. Comorbid medical and neuropsychiatric disorders are common. Reports of effective pharmacological treatment of associated neuropsychiatric disorders are limited. The authors describe the successful treatment of interfering anger, aggression, and hair-pulling with N-acetylcysteine in a 19-year-old woman with Williams syndrome. The neuropsychiatric symptoms emerged 1 week following an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, for which fentanyl, midazolam, and propofol were used as anesthetics. The patient's treatment course and hypothesized mechanisms underlying the clinical presentation and symptom resolution are described.
    Journal of child neurology 01/2014; · 1.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this review is to summarize the recent literature regarding abnormalities in sensory functioning in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including evidence regarding the neurobiological basis of these symptoms, their clinical correlates, and their treatment. Abnormalities in responses to sensory stimuli are highly prevalent in individuals with ASD. The underlying neurobiology of these symptoms is unclear, but several theories have been proposed linking possible etiologies of sensory dysfunction with known abnormalities in brain structure and function that are associated with ASD. In addition to the distress that sensory symptoms can cause patients and caregivers, these phenomena have been correlated with several other problematic symptoms and behaviors associated with ASD, including restrictive and repetitive behavior, self-injurious behavior, anxiety, inattention, and gastrointestinal complaints. It is unclear whether these correlations are causative in nature or whether they are due to shared underlying pathophysiology. The best-known treatments for sensory symptoms in ASD involve a program of occupational therapy that is specifically tailored to the needs of the individual and that may include sensory integration therapy, a sensory diet, and environmental modifications. While some empirical evidence supports these treatments, more research is needed to evaluate their efficacy, and other means of alleviating these symptoms, including possible psychopharmacological interventions, need to be explored. Additional research into the sensory symptoms associated with ASD has the potential to shed more light on the nature and pathophysiology of these disorders and to open new avenues of effective treatments.
    Harvard Review of Psychiatry 01/2014; 22(2):112-24. · 3.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A key area of concern in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are self-injurious behaviors (SIBs). These are behaviors that an individual engages in that may cause physical harm, such as head banging, or self-biting. SIBs are more common in children with ASD than those who are typically developing or have other neurodevelopmental disabilities. Therefore, it is important that clinicians who work with children with ASD have a solid understanding of SIB. The purpose of this paper is to review the research on the epidemiology of SIB in children with ASD, factors that predict the presence of SIB in this population, and the empirically supported behavioral treatments available.
    Psychology Research and Behavior Management 01/2014; 7:125-136.
  • Laura C Politte, Charles A Henry, Christopher J McDougle
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    ABSTRACT: Learning Objectives: After participating in this educational activity, the physician should be better able to1. Prescribe the appropriate psychotropic medication to treat symptoms of ASD.2. Identify the side effects of the psychotropic medications used to treat ASD.Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by core deficits in social communication and language, and restrictive and repetitive behaviors that cause significant functional impairment and distress for affected individuals and their caregivers. The increasing prevalence of ASD, most recently estimated as 1 in 88 children, presents an ever-increasing burden on families, schools, medical systems, and society at large. Individuals with ASD commonly present for treatment of associated emotional and behavioral disturbances that include anxiety, symptoms of ADHD, compulsions and other repetitive behaviors, mood lability, irritability, aggression, and sleep disturbance. Psychotropic medications are widely utilized in alleviating these symptoms, though rigorous clinical trials in ASD are lacking for most areas of impairment. Strong evidence from randomized, placebo-controlled trials supports the use of atypical antipsychotics, particularly risperidone and aripiprazole, for managing severe irritability and aggression in ASD. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors are commonly used to treat anxiety and compulsions, though reports of efficacy in the literature are mixed, and behavioral side effects in children are common. Minimal evidence supports the utility of anticonvulsants and traditional mood stabilizers in managing mood lability and aggression. Stimulant and nonstimulant ADHD medications can be effective for reducing hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity, though to a lesser degree than in ADHD populations without ASD and with greater risk of adverse effects. Psychopharmacological interventions in development for core symptoms of autism include those that target the glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmitter systems and the neuropeptide oxytocin. Further research is needed to establish evidence-based interventions in ASD populations.
    Harvard Review of Psychiatry 01/2014; 22(2):76-92. · 3.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study identified subtypes of aggression in a sample of 206 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who participated in 2 risperidone trials. The narratives were derived from a parent interview about each child's 2 most pressing problems. Five subtypes of aggression emerged: hot aggression only, cold aggression only, self-injurious behavior (SIB) only, aggression and SIB, and nonaggressive. All groups showed a high rate of positive response to risperidone with no differences across subtypes. These study findings extend understanding of aggression in ASD and may be useful to guide further study on biological mechanisms and individualized treatment in ASD.
    Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America 01/2014; 23(1):57-72. · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Repetitive behaviors in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) range from motor stereotypy to immersion in restricted interests. The modified Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale for children with autism spectrum disorder (CYBOCS-ASD) includes a Symptom Checklist (behavior present or absent) and 5 severity scales (Time Spent, Interference, Distress, Resistance and Control). We assembled CYBOCS-ASD data from 3 Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology Autism Network trials to explore the component structure of repetitive behaviors in children with ASD. Raters trained to reliability conducted the CYBOCS-ASD in 272 medication-free subjects. Fifteen Symptom Checklist items were endorsed for less than 5% of the sample and were dropped. Principal component analysis was used to explore the clustering of 23 checklist items. Component scores computed for each subject were correlated with other measures. We also examined the distribution of severity scales. The subjects (229 boys and 43 girls; mean age = 7.8 ± 2.6 years) met criteria for an ASD; half were intellectually disabled. The PCA resulted in a 5-component solution to classify repetitive behaviors (34.4% of the variance): hoarding and ritualistic behavior; sensory and arranging behavior; sameness and self-injurious behavior; stereotypy; restricted interests. Sensory and arranging and stereotypy components were associated with lower adaptive functioning (Pearson r = 0.2-0.3; p < .003). The resistance scale showed little variation, with more than 60% of the sample with the highest score. Rarely endorsed items can be dropped from the Checklist. The resistance item does not appear to be relevant for children with ASD.
    Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 01/2014; 53(1):97-107.e1. · 6.97 Impact Factor
  • 60th Meeting of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; 10/2013
  • 60th Meeting of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; 10/2013
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    ABSTRACT: An excitatory/inhibitory (E:I) imbalance marked by enhanced glutamate and deficient gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission may contribute to the pathophysiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We report on the first single-blind placebo lead-in trial of acamprosate, a drug with putative mechanisms restoring E:I imbalance, in twelve youth with ASD. We conducted a 12-week single-blind, placebo lead-in study of acamprosate in youth age 5-17 years with autistic disorder. Six of nine subjects who received active drug treatment were deemed treatment responders (defined by a score at final visit of "very much improved" or "much improved" on the Clinical Global Impressions Improvement scale) and ≥25 % improvement on the Aberrant Behavior Checklist Social Withdrawal subscale. Future larger-scale dose finding studies of acamprosate in ASD may be warranted given this preliminary indication of benefit.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 09/2013; · 3.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Methylphenidate (MPH) reduces hyperactive-impulsive symptoms common in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), however, response and tolerability varies widely. We hypothesized monoaminergic gene variants may moderate MPH effects in ASD, as in typically developing children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Genotype data were available for 64 children with ASD and hyperactivity who were exposed to MPH during a 1-week safety/tolerability lead-in phase and 58 who went on to be randomized to placebo and three doses of MPH during a 4-week blinded, crossover study. Outcome measures included the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement (CGI-I) scale and the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC-hyperactivity index). A total of 14 subjects discontinued the study because of MPH side effects. Subjects were genotyped for variants in DRD1-DRD5, ADRA2A, SLC6A3, SLC6A4, MAOA and MAOB, and COMT. Forty-nine percent of the sample met positive responder criteria. In this modest but relatively homogeneous sample, significant differences by DRD1 (P=0.006), ADRA2A (P<0.02), COMT (P<0.04), DRD3 (P<0.05), DRD4 (P<0.05), SLC6A3 (P<0.05) and SLC6A4 (P<0.05) genotypes were found for responders versus non-responders. Variants in DRD2 (P<0.001) and DRD3 (P<0.04) were associated with tolerability in the 14 subjects who discontinued the trial. For this first MPH pharmacogenetic study in children with ASD, multiple monoaminergic gene variants may help explain individual differences in MPH's efficacy and tolerability.The Pharmacogenomics Journal advance online publication, 16 July 2013; doi:10.1038/tpj.2013.23.
    The Pharmacogenomics Journal 07/2013; · 5.13 Impact Factor
  • Academic Psychiatry 07/2013; 37(4):288-289. · 0.81 Impact Factor
  • Eric P Hazen, Christopher J McDougle, Fred R Volkmar
    The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 07/2013; 74(7):739-40. · 5.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

10k Citations
1,655.37 Total Impact Points


  • 2014
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2012–2014
    • Harvard Medical School
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    • Emory University
      Atlanta, Georgia, United States
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2013
    • Partners HealthCare
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2009–2013
    • University of Pittsburgh
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
    • Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 1998–2013
    • Riley Hospital for Children
      Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
    • Concordia University–Ann Arbor
      Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
  • 1997–2013
    • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Indianapolis, IN, United States
  • 1990–2013
    • Yale University
      • • Child Study Center
      • • Department of Psychiatry
      New Haven, CT, United States
  • 2005–2011
    • Indiana University Bloomington
      Bloomington, Indiana, United States
  • 2010
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      Los Angeles, California, United States
  • 2008–2010
    • The Ohio State University
      • Nisonger Center
      Columbus, Ohio, United States
    • Arizona State University
      • T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
      Tempe, AZ, United States
  • 2007–2008
    • Indiana University-Purdue University School of Medicine
      • Psychiatry
      Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
    • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
      Maryland, United States
  • 2004
    • Butler Hospital
      Providence, Rhode Island, United States
  • 2002–2004
    • Brown University
      • Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
      Providence, RI, United States
  • 1993–2003
    • Yale-New Haven Hospital
      • Department of Laboratory Medicine
      New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • 2000
    • University of Indianapolis
      Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
  • 1997–1998
    • Alpert Medical School - Brown University
      • Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
      Providence, RI, United States