Effect of fluoxetine on regional cerebral metabolism in autistic spectrum disorders: A pilot study

Monte S. Buchsbaum, Eric Hollander, M. Mehmet Haznedar, Cheuk Tang, Jacqueline Spiegel-Cohen, Tse Chung Wei, Andrea Solimando, Bradley R. Buchsbaum, Diana Robins, Carol Bienstock, Charles Cartwright, Serge Mosovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


The regional metabolic effects of fluoxetine were examined in patients with autism spectrum disorders. Six adult patients with DSM-IV and Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI) diagnoses of autism (n = 5) and Asperger's syndrome (n = 1), entered a 16-wk placebo-controlled cross-over trial of fluoxetine. The patients received 18F-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography with co-registered magnetic resonance imaging at baseline and at the end of the period of fluoxetine administration. After treatment, the patients showed significant improvement on the scores of the Yale - Brown Obsessive - Compulsive Scale - Obsessions subscale and the Hamilton Anxiety Scale; Clinical Global Impressions - Autism scores showed 3 of the patients much improved and 3 unchanged. Relative metabolic rates were significantly higher in the right frontal lobe following fluoxetine, especially in the anterior cingulate gyrus and the orbitofrontal cortex. Patients with higher metabolic rates in the medial frontal region and anterior cingulate when unmedicated were more likely to respond favourably to fluoxetine. These results are consistent with those in depression indicating that higher cingulate gyrus metabolic rates at baseline predict SRI response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-125
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Asperger's syndrome
  • Autism
  • Cingulate gyrus
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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