Nicole Tartaglia, MD
Professor, Pediatrics-Developmental Pediatrics University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Children with autism often struggle with behavioral challenges including irritability, anxiety, attention deficits, aggressive behaviors or self-injurious behaviors. Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring substances in the human body that bind to cannabinoid receptors and have actions across the body including significant effects on brain and behavior. Early studies in autism have suggested differences in the endocannabinoid system. Treatment with cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from the cannabis plant has shown some early promise for treatment of behavioral difficulties in autism, and the CASCADE study is an ongoing placebo-controlled trial of CBD in autistic children at Children’s Hospital Colorado. In this project we will compare levels of 14 different endocannabinoids and the primary enzymes that regulate them in autistic children 4-17 years of age from the CASCADE study to non-autistic children in the same age range. Further, we will study changes in the endocannabinoid system in autistic children after treatment with CBD, and also explore the endocannabinoid profile of autistic children who had a positive response to CBD treatment to help make better recommendations related to which autistic children might respond best to CBD treatment.