Yokukansan (TJ-54) for irritability associated with pervasive developmental disorder in children and adolescents: a 12-week prospective, open-label study.J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2013 Jun; 23(5):329-36.JC
Autistic disorder is a neuropsychiatric syndrome characterized by deficits in social interaction; qualitative impairments in communication; and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. It is classified as a type of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). All PDDs have a qualitative impairment in social relatedness. However, many individuals with PDDs have interfering symptoms, including irritability (aggression, self-injurious behavior, and severe tantrums). Behavioral therapy is often helpful in decreasing these behaviors; however, sometimes adjunctive medications are needed, because of the intensity and severity of irritability. Numerous medications have been tested on patients with PDDs. Although many of these medications have been demonstrated to be useful, no clear main treatment for PDD has emerged. Despite the efficacy of some of the medicines, acceptability and side effects have proven to be barriers to their use. Yokukansan (TJ-54), a traditional Japanese medicine, is composed of seven kinds of dried herbs. It is widely prescribed in clinical situations for treating psychiatric disorders by acting mainly on the glutamatergic and serotonergic nervous system. Recent studies indicate that TJ-54 may be safe and useful in treating behavioral and psychological symptoms in dementia patients. We aimed at evaluating both the efficacy and the safety of TJ-54 in patients with PDDs.
This was a 12 week prospective, open-label investigation of TJ-54 in 20 children and adolescents ages 6-17 years diagnosed with PDDs. Primary outcome measures included the Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement of Illness Scale (CGI-I), Children's Global Assessment Score (CGAS), and the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) irritability subscale.
Twenty subjects, ages 6-17 years, received TJ-54 in the dosage range of 2.5-7.5 g/day. The CGI-I was significantly improved from 8 weeks (p<0.001). The mean CGAS was 31.92 at baseline, whereas the mean final score at 12 weeks was 54.52 (p<0.001). The ABC irritability/agitation subscale (subscale 1) was significantly improved from 8 weeks, and the hyperactivity/noncompliance subscale (subscale 4) was significantly improved in 12 weeks. TJ-54 was well tolerated. No subject left the study because of a drug-related adverse event.
These preliminary data suggest that TJ-54 may be effective and well tolerated for the treatment of severe irritability/agitation and hyperactivity/noncompliance in children and adolescents ages 6-17 years with PDD. However, given the characteristics of this trial, the present findings should be taken cautiously, and larger-scale placebo-controlled studies are needed to elucidate the efficacy and tolerability of TJ-54 in this understudied population.