Autism Biomedical Information Network

Further study of secretin

In addition to previous reports (see previous secretin studies) two more studies (published in 2000) failed to show significant improvement of features of autism after treatment with secretin.

Chez et al carried out a two-phase study. Porcine secretin was administered open-label to 56 children. 34 were diagnosed as PDD-NOS and 22 as autistic disorder. A subset of 17, who were considered to have been the most responsive to secretin by their parents during the open-label study, were studied further using a double-blind crossover design. Evaluation tools included sequential completion of the Childhood Autism Rating Scale and observation by office staff. One group received placebo for 4 weeks followed by secretin. The second group had the reverse sequence. The authors conclude that despite "transient changes in speech and behavior in some children, overall it produced few clinically meaningful changes when compared to children given placebo injections."


J Autism Dev Disord 2000 Apr;30(2):87-94

Secretin and autism: a two-part clinical investigation.

Chez MG, Buchanan CP, Bagan BT, Hammer MS, McCarthy KS, Ovrutskaya I, Nowinski
CV, Cohen ZS

Pediatric Neurology, Lake Forest Hospital, Illinois 60045, USA.
[email protected]

Recent anecdotal reports have touted the gastrointestinal (GI) hormone secretin
as a treatment modality for autism, though there is little clinical evidence or
literature to support its viability. We undertook a two-part clinical trial to
investigate these claims. Fifty-six patients (49 boys, 7 girls, mean age = 6.4
years, SD = 2.7) enrolled in an open-label trial of secretin, during which they
received one injection of the hormone (2 IU/kg). All subjects were evaluated by
their parents at baseline and follow-up visits (3-6 weeks later, M = 3.7, SD =
1.4 weeks) with Childhood Autism Rating Scales (CARS). Thirty-four patients were
labeled with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and 22
met diagnostic criteria for Autistic Disorder. Forty-five patients were
concurrently on other drug treatments. At follow-up, some reported minimal but
potentially significant improvements including changes in GI symptoms,
expressive and/or receptive language function, and improved awareness and social
interactions. No adverse effects were reported or observed. Subsequently, 17 of
the most responsive patients from Study 1 began a double-blind trial that also
included 8 newly enrolled patients. Patients in this second study were
alternatively entered into one of two groups and received injections of secretin
or placebo with crossover at 4 weeks. Patients from Study 1 entered into Study 2
at an average of 6.5 (SD = 0.8) weeks after beginning Study 1. Results of both
inquiries indicate that although treatment with secretin was reported to cause
transient changes in speech and behavior in some children, overall it produced
few clinically meaningful changes when compared to children given placebo

Publication Types:
Clinical trial
Randomized controlled trial

Comment in:
J Autism Dev Disord. 2000 Apr;30(2):95, discussion 97-8

PMID: 10832772

Secretin controlled trial by Dunn et al

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This page last updated on 02/17/2001