A New Neurobehavioral Model of Autism in Mice: Pre- and Postnatal Exposure to Sodium Valproate

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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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