Doctor Michael Chez (child neurologist from Chicago) was the first to use carnosine in the treatment of autism. Team of scientists working with Dr Chez in 2002 published a scientific paper on the use of carnosine in the treatment of children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). The study comprised a total of 31 children with autism, 3 to 12,5 years of age. The children were divided in two groups. One group received carnosine in a dose of 800 mg per day for 8 weeks, while the second group received placebo within the same period of time. The study was double-blind, where neither the participants nor those who carried out the experiments did not know which group received carnosine, and which did not.
At the beginning of the study certain tests were carried out measuring the level of their ability and disability, including Giliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS), Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), Expressive and Receptive One-World Picture Vocabulary tests (E/ROWPVT) and Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGI). Every two weeks the kids were doing CGI tests and parents evaluated their knowledge. Other tests were repeated at the end of the experiment. The results showed that children treated with placebo did not show statistically significant changes in speech. While in children who were taking carnosine the progress was noted in socialization, behavior, communication and understanding speech.
The conclusion is that the study showed a positive effect of carnosine on understanding and production of speech, hearing, socialization, awareness of the surroundings and fine motor skills. Improvement was observed between 1. and 8. week after the application of carnosine. Results of the children who participated in the study with carnosine showed statistically significant improvement in the range of assessment of behavior by 18%, communication by 16% of and social interaction by 27%. During the study, no adverse effects of carnosine were noted.
Dr Chez and his colleagues did not know the exact mechanism of action of carnosine and it was necessary to do biochemical research on the effects of carnosine on the brain. In any case, carnosine is a useful dietary supplement, which improves the functioning of neurons in children with ASD and probably acts selectively. Dr Chez has found that carnosine stimulates the anterior parts of the brain, by increasing its activity, leading to a general improvement in brain function, because there is no better interaction between the brain and neurotransmitters that act in the deeper parts of the brain. The increasing number of studies shows that the frontal and temporal areas of the brain control emotions, epileptic and cognitive activity, expression of speech and abstract thinking. The autonomic nervous system is part of the subcortical centers of the central nervous system, in which each has its own function and harmonious interaction, which is essential for social skills, emotions, etc. In autism, the development and maturation of subcortical centers are stopped. Thereby the adaptive mechanisms regulating stress levels are disturbed.
Published study can be found on PubMed