Clinical Trial Spotlight: Irritability in children, teens

February 17, 2021

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UNMC researchers are seeking children and adolescents for the study "Investigating the impact of oxytocin on irritability/emotional dysregulation in children and adolescents with disruptive behavior and mood disorders, and the possible mediating role of amygdala activity" (IRB#: 321-16-FB).

About the study:

Irritability is one of the most common reasons children and teens are referred for mental health care. This study uses a combination of brain imaging (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Magneto Encephalography) and oxytocin or placebo nasal spray to look for signals in brain areas that may be responsible for irritability. We hope to see if there is improvement in children and teens' moods and behaviors from the oxytocin nasal spray as well as observable changes with the brain imaging.

Soonjo Hwang, MD, is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who specializes in research using brain imaging in children and teenagers. These tools allow researchers to see changes in brain activity and how they relate to changes in mood and behavior. Researchers plan to enroll 104 participants.

The study is seeking children and adolescents, ages 10-18, who:

  • Have high levels of irritability;
  • Have no metal in or on the body;
  • Have had no medication changes in the past six weeks;
  • Are willing to use a nasal spray; and
  • Are not pregnant.

Participants are expected to:

  • Complete four to five visits over a five-week period (two of the visits will be at Boys Town National Research Hospital);
  • Use the nasal spray medication as directed;
  • Complete questionnaires about mood and behavior symptoms;
  • Complete two MEG scans, two fMRI scans, an IQ test and a psychiatric interview; and
  • Provide an optional cheek swab for genetic testing.

Parents/legal guardians will complete questionnaires on their child's mood and behavior symptoms.

To express interest in participating, contact:

Arica Lerdahl at 402-552-6101 or by email.


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