Background: Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMS) is caused by haploinsufficiency of the SHANK3 gene and is characterized by global developmental delays and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Based on several converging lines of preclinical and clinical evidence supporting the use of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in PMS, this study aims to follow-up a previous pilot study with IGF-1 to further evaluate this novel therapeutic for core symptoms of ASD in children with PMS. Methods: Ten children aged 5–9 with PMS were enrolled. Participants were randomized to receive IGF-1 or placebo (saline) using a 12-week, double-blind, crossover design. Efficacy was assessed using the primary outcome of the Aberrant Behavior Checklist—Social Withdrawal (ABC-SW) subscale as well as secondary outcome measures reflecting core symptoms of ASD. To increase power and sample size, we jointly analyzed the effect of IGF-1 reported here together with results from our previous controlled trail of IGF-1 in children with PMS (combined N = 19). Results: Results on the ABC-SW did not reach statistical significance, however significant improvements in sensory reactivity symptoms were observed. In our pooled analyses, IGF-1 treatment also led to significant improvements in repetitive behaviors and hyperactivity. There were no other statistically significant effects seen across other clinical outcome measures. IGF-1 was well tolerated and there were no serious adverse events. Limitations: The small sample size and expectancy bias due to relying on parent reported outcome measures may contribute to limitations in interpreting results. Conclusion: IGF-1 is efficacious in improving sensory reactivity symptoms, repetitive behaviors, and hyperactivity in children with PMS. Trial registration NCT01525901.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalMolecular Autism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • ASD
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • IGF-1
  • Insulin-like growth factor-1
  • PMS
  • Phelan-McDermid syndrome
  • shank3


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