Alteration of brain volume in IL-6 overexpressing mice related to autism

Central Laboratory, Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital, Taiyuan, China. Electronic address: .
International journal of developmental neuroscience: the official journal of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 2.58). 08/2012; 30(7):554-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2012.08.007
Source: PubMed


Abnormal neuroimmune responses have been reported to be associated with autism and could be appropriate targets for pharmacologic intervention. Our previous studies showed that neuroimmune factor, interleukin (IL)-6, was significantly elevated in the fontal cortex and cerebellum of autistic subjects. The IL-6 overexpressing mice displayed several autism-like features as well as an abnormal dendritic spine morphology and synaptic function. The purpose of this study was to examine the volumetric differences in the brain of IL-6 overexpressing mice and compare with corresponding control mice using magnetic resonance imaging. Here we show that IL-6 overexpressing mice display an increase in the total brain volume. In addition, the lateral ventricle is also enlarged in the IL-6 overexpressing mice. The brain structures surrounding the lateral ventricle were squeezed and deformed from the normal location. These results indicate that IL-6 elevation in the brain could mediate neuroanatomical abnormalities. Taking together with our previous findings, a mechanism by which IL-6 may be involved in the pathogenesis of autism is proposed.

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    • "More specifically, the clinical onset of autism seems to be related to a reduced head size at birth and a sudden and excessive increase in the size of the head between 1 to 2 months and between 6 to 14 months (Courchesne et al., 2003; Wei et al., 2013). Incidentally, mice with higher levels of IL-6 in the brain show an increase in total brain volume and enlargement of the lateral ventricle (Wei et al., 2012). Neuroanatomical abnormalities seen in ASD patients are consistent with the reported neuroimmune alterations, where cytokines like IL-6, IL-8, TNF-␣, GM-CSF, and IFN-␥ were significantly increased in autistic brains when compared to control samples (Li et al., 2009; Wei et al., 2011). "
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