Open Label Aripiprazole in the Treatment of Youth with Tic Disorders

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Background: Primarily safe and efficacious treatments for chronic tic disorders are needed. Also needed are such treatments that target co-morbid conditions. Aripiprazole, a dopaminergic/serotonergic agent with partial agonist properties at the D2 dopamine receptor and 5-hydrdoxytryptamine 1A (5-HT1A) receptor and antagonist properties at the 5-HT2A receptor, holds promise in both regards.

Objective: This was an open-label, flexible-dose study to evaluate the safety of aripiprazole in children and adolescents with a primary diagnosis of a chronic tic disorder with/without co-morbid disorder(s).

Method: Sixteen children (15 males) aged 8–17 years participated in the 6-week trial. Ratings for tic, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and side effects were administered weekly. Baseline and exit laboratory measures, electrocardiograms (ECGs), weight, and height were obtained.

Results: The average daily aripiprazole dose was 3.3 mg (range 1.25–7.5 mg). Significant pre-and posttreatment differences were ascertained for the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale motor (p ≤ 0.0001), phonic (p ≤ 0.0001), and total tic (p ≤ 0.0001) scores. Results of other rating scales suggested significant improvements in co-morbid disorders as well, including OCD, ADHD, and depressive disorders. Although aripiprazole was well tolerated, increases in weight were found.

Conclusion: In this preliminary open-label trial, aripiprazole was a well-tolerated treatment for tics and co-morbid OCD and ADHD symptoms. Improvements in co-morbid conditions may be secondary to tic reduction or to specific to aripiprazole therapy; however, further study is warranted.

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Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, v. 19, issue 14, p. 441-447