Sulforaphane for the Treatment of Young Men With Autism Spectrum Disorder

2016-09-21 20:23:21 | BioPortfolio


The aim of this randomized controlled trial is to determine if a nutritional supplement containing broccoli sprout and seed extracts, a rich source of sulforaphane, is effective in reducing core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study will also explore the safety and tolerability of a sulforaphane supplement in young men with ASD, as well as its effects on challenging neuropsychiatric symptoms that are commonly associated with ASD, such as hyperactivity, irritability, and repetitive movements.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting 1 in 68 children, including 1 in 42 boys, characterized by marked social communication impairment and restricted, repetitive behaviors and interests. Evidence-based pharmacological treatments available for the treatment of the defining symptoms of ASD are currently lacking.

While the etiology of ASD is not fully understood, the pathogenesis is hypothesized to involve cellular dysfunction, including increased oxidative stress, aberrant neuroinflammation, and reduced mitochondrial capacity, leading to synaptic dysfunction in at least a subset of individuals. Sulforaphane is a powerful upregulator of antioxidant response elements and heat shock proteins, which may lead to improved redox capacity, decreased inflammation, and improved mitochondrial functioning in individuals with ASD. A trial by Singh and colleagues (2014) provided preliminary evidence suggesting that sulforaphane derived from broccoli sprout extract can have beneficial effects for improving symptoms of autism.

In this study, young men ages 13-30 years old with moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder will be randomly assigned to receive either a sulforaphane supplement or placebo for a 12 week treatment treatment period, followed by a 4 week blinded discontinuation phase. The uncoated tablets each contain 125 mg broccoli seed extract and 50 mg broccoli sprout extract, corresponding to approximately 15 µmol sulforaphane per tablet. The dose will vary from 3-8 tablets daily depending upon the participant's weight. Matched placebo tablets contain only inert ingredients

Participants will provide an overnight voided urine sample prior to starting treatment and at the end of the treatment phase to quantify sulforaphane metabolites. Clinical response will be assessed through clinician- and caregiver-rated measures of autism symptoms (Social Responsiveness Scale-2; Repetitive Behavior Scale- Revised), challenging symptoms commonly observed in individuals with developmental disabilities (Aberrant Behavior Checklist), and global severity of symptoms and improvement (Clinical Global Impression Scale). A blood sample will be collected at baseline and at the end of the treatment phase to check safety labs and to store for a planned future study of biomarkers associated with treatment response.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Caregiver, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Treatment


Autism Spectrum Disorder


Sulforaphane, Placebo


Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, University of North Carolina School of Medicine
North Carolina
United States


Not yet recruiting


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2016-09-21T20:23:21-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

A childhood disorder predominately affecting boys and similar to autism (AUTISTIC DISORDER). It is characterized by severe, sustained, clinically significant impairment of social interaction, and restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior. In contrast to autism, there are no clinically significant delays in language or cognitive development. (From DSM-IV)

Wide continuum of associated cognitive and neurobehavioral disorders, including, but not limited to, three core-defining features: impairments in socialization, impairments in verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors. (from DSM-V)

Misunderstanding among individuals, frequently research subjects, of scientific methods such as randomization and placebo controls.

Disorders comprising a spectrum of brain malformations representing the paradigm of a diffuse neuronal migration disorder. They result in cognitive impairment; SEIZURES; and HYPOTONIA or spasticity. Mutations of two genes, LIS1, the gene for the non-catalytic subunit of PLATELET-ACTIVATING FACTOR ACETYLHYDROLASE IB; and DCX or XLIS, the gene for doublecortin, have been identified as the most common causes of disorders in this spectrum. Additional variants of classical (Type I) lissencephaly have been linked to RELN, the gene for reelin, and ARX, the gene for aristaless related homeobox protein. (From Leventer, R.J., et al, Mol Med Today. 2000 Jul;6(7):277-84 and Barkovich, A.J., et al, Neurology. 2005 Dec 27;65(12):1873-87.)

An effect usually, but not necessarily, beneficial that is attributable to an expectation that the regimen will have an effect, i.e., the effect is due to the power of suggestion.

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