A new neurobehavioral model of autism in mice: pre- and postnatal exposure to sodium valproate.
ABSTRACT Autism symptoms, including impairments in language development, social interactions, and motor skills, have been difficult to model in rodents. Since children exposed in utero to sodium valproate (VPA) demonstrate behavioral and neuroanatomical abnormalities similar to those seen in autism, the neurodevelopmental effects of this antiepileptic agent were examined in mice following its pre- or postnatal administration. Exposed pups were evaluated in a battery of neurodevelopmental procedures designed to assess VPA-induced retardation (wherein a behavior fails to mature on schedule), regression (wherein a behavior does mature on time but then deteriorates), or intrusions (wherein normal behaviors are overshadowed by stereotypic or self-injurious behaviors). The resulting observations were interpreted in the context of this new strategy to model autism.
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ABSTRACT: Several studies support currently the hypothesis that autism etiology is based on a polygenic and epistatic model. However, despite advances in epidemiological, molecular and clinical genetics, the genetic risk factors remain difficult to identify, with the exception of a few chromosomal disorders and several single gene disorders associated with an increased risk for autism. Furthermore, several studies suggest a role of environmental factors in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). First, arguments for a genetic contribution to autism, based on updated family and twin studies, are examined. Second, a review of possible prenatal, perinatal and postnatal environmental risk factors for ASD are presented. Then, the hypotheses are discussed concerning the underlying mechanisms related to a role of environmental factors in the development of ASD in association with genetic factors. In particular, epigenetics as a candidate biological mechanism for gene X environment interactions is considered and the possible role of epigenetic mechanisms reported in genetic disorders associated with ASD is discussed. Furthermore, the example of in utero exposure to valproate provides a good illustration of epigenetic mechanisms involved in ASD and innovative therapeutic strategies. Epigenetic remodeling by environmental factors opens new perspectives for a better understanding, prevention and early therapeutic intervention of ASD.Frontiers in Psychiatry 08/2014;
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ABSTRACT: We recently showed that prenatal exposure to valproic acid (VPA) in mice causes autism-like behavioral abnormalities, including social interaction deficits, anxiety-like behavior and spatial learning disability, in male offspring. In the present study, we examined the effect of prenatal VPA on cognitive function and whether the effect is improved by chronic treatment with VPA and sodium butyrate, histone deacetylase inhibitors. In addition, we examined whether the cognitive dysfunction is associated with hippocampal dendritic morphological changes. Mice given prenatal exposure to VPA exhibited novel object recognition deficits at 9weeks of age, and that the impairment was blocked by chronic (5-week) treatment with VPA (30mg/kg/d, i.p.) or sodium butyrate (1.2g/kg/d, i.p.) starting at 4weeks of age. In agreement with the behavioral findings, the mice prenatally exposed to VPA showed a decrease in dendritic spine density in the hippocampal CA1 region, and the spine loss was attenuated by chronic treatment with sodium butyrate or VPA. Furthermore, acute treatment with sodium butyrate, but not VPA, significantly increased acetylation of histone H3 in the hippocampus at 30min, suggesting the difference in the mechanism for the effects of chronic VPA and sodium butyrate. These findings suggest that prenatal VPA-induced cognitive dysfunction is associated with changes in hippocampal dendritic spine morphology.Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 09/2014; · 2.82 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined by impaired social interaction and communication accompanied by stereotyped behaviors and restricted interests. Although ASD is common, its genetic and clinical features are highly heterogeneous. A number of recent breakthroughs have dramatically advanced our understanding of ASD from the standpoint of human genetics and neuropathology. These studies highlight the period of fetal development and the processes of chromatin structure, synaptic function, and neuron-glial signaling. The initial efforts to systematically integrate findings of multiple levels of genomic data and studies of mouse models have yielded new clues regarding ASD pathophysiology. This early work points to an emerging convergence of disease mechanisms in this complex and etiologically heterogeneous disorder.Annual review of pathology. 01/2015; 10:111-144.