A Double-Blind and Placebo-Controlled Trial of Aripiprazole in Symptomatic Youths at Genetic High Risk for Bipolar Disorder

Robert L. Findling, Eric A. Youngstrom, Brieana M. Rowles, Elizabeth Deyling, Jacqui Lingler, Robert J. Stansbrey, Molly McVoy, Sarah Lytle, Joseph R. Calabrese, Nora K. McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine if acute treatment with aripiprazole (APZ) would be superior to treatment with placebo in reducing dysfunctional symptoms of elevated mood and/or irritability in symptomatic children and adolescents at familial high risk for bipolar disorder (BPD) whose mood episodes occur spontaneously. These are patients we have previously referred to as suffering from "cyclotaxia." Methods: This was single-site, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled outpatient clinical trial in which youths aged 5-17 years who met diagnostic criteria for either cyclothymic disorder (CYC) or BPD not otherwise specified (BP-NOS) were randomly assigned to receive either APZ or placebo. Eligible participants had at least one parent with BPD, another first- or second-degree relative afflicted with a mood disorder, and also had not responded to psychotherapy. Treatment with APZ was initiated at a dose of approximately 0.1 mg/kg/day and could be increased by approximately 0.05 mg/kg/day at each study visit. Patients were seen weekly for 4 weeks and then every other week thereafter for 12 weeks. The primary outcome measure was mean change from baseline on Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) total score. Results: A total of 59 patients (30 APZ, 29 placebo) aged 11.8 (SD = 2.7) years were randomized and returned for at least one postbaseline assessment. The mean total daily doses of active APZ and placebo were 7.1 mg (SD = 3.7) and 7.4 mg (SD = 4.2), respectively. At the 12-week time point, APZ was superior to placebo on the primary outcome measure (p < 0.005). Most adverse events were mild and transient in nature. There was a significant difference in weight gain from baseline between patients who received APZ (2.3 kg [SD = 3.3]) and those who received placebo (0.7 kg [SD = 1.8]). Conclusion: This double-blind trial found that APZ was significantly more efficacious than placebo in reducing symptoms of mania in children and adolescents with cyclotaxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-874
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • adolescent
  • aripiprazole
  • child
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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