Reduction of elevated CSF beta-endorphin by fenfluramine in infantile autism

Diana L. Ross, William M. Klykylo, Robert Hitzemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Fenfluramine therapy has been reported to improve behavior in infantile autism and has been associated with a decrease in abnormally increased blood serotonin content. The primary central effect has not been proved to be serotonergic. Beta-endorphin is involved in the anorexic effect of fenfluramine and may play a role in autism. Nine children with infantile autism were treated with fenfluramine in double-blind, placebocrossover design. Transient anorexia was the only adverse effect. Autistic behavior was reported to improve in three patients, but objective psychometric tests were unchanged. Beta-endorphin-like immunoreactivity was determined in lumbar cerebrospinal fluid of patients during and before or after treatment with fenfluramine and then was compared to normal controls. Beta-endorphin was elevated significantly in the baseline autistic group (p < .005) and was reduced toward control values during fenfluramine treatment. The results are consistent with a role for beta-endorphin in infantile autism and in the mechanism of fenfluramine treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-86
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Reduction of elevated CSF beta-endorphin by fenfluramine in infantile autism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this