Abnormalities in behaviour, histology and prefrontal cortical gene expression profiles relevant to schizophrenia in embryonic day 17 MAM-Exposed C57BL/6 mice

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Gestational and perinatal disruption of neural development increases the risk of developing schizophrenia (SCZ) later in life. Embryonic day 17 (E17) methylazoxymethanol (MAM) treatment leads to histological, physiological and behavioural abnormalities in post-puberty rats that model the neuropathological and cognitive deficits reported in SCZ patients. However, the validity of E17 MAM-exposed mice to model SCZ has not been explored. Here we treated E17 C57BL/6 mouse dams with various dosages of MAM. We found that this mouse strain was more vulnerable to MAM treatment than rats and there were gender differences in behavioural abnormalities, histological changes and prefrontal cortical gene expression profiles in MAM (7.5 mg/kg)-exposed mice. Both male and female MAM-exposed mice had deficits in prepulse inhibition. Female MAM-exposed mice exhibited mildly increased spontaneous locomotion activity and social recognition deficits, while male mice were normal. Consistently, only female MAM-exposed mice exhibited reduced brain weight, decreased size of prefrontal cortex (PFC) and enlarged lateral ventricles. Transcriptome analysis of the PFC revealed that there were more differentially expressed genes in female MAM-exposed mice than those in male mice. Moreover, expression of Pvalb, Arc and genes in their association networks were downregulated in the PFC of female MAM-exposed mice. These results indicate that E17 MAM-exposure in C57BL/6 mice leads to behavioural changes that model certain deficits reported in SCZ patients. MAM-exposed female mice may be used to study gene expression changes, inhibitory neural circuit dysfunction and glutamatergic synaptic plasticity deficits with a possible relation to those in the brains of SCZ patients.HighlightsE17 MAM-exposure in C57BL/6 mice leads to behavioural changes that associated with SCZ.Gender differences of histological changes, behavioural abnormalities and gene expression profiles in MAM-exposed mice.Downregulation of Pvalb, Arc and their associated network in the prefrontal cortical of female MAM-exposed mice.

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