Zebrafish models of autism spectrum disorder

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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by motor, social and cognitive deficits that develop early during childhood. The pathogenesis of ASD is not well characterized and involves a multifaceted interaction between genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors. Animal (experimental) models possess evolutionarily conserved behaviors and molecular pathways that are highly relevant for studying ASD. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a relatively new animal model with promise for understanding the pathogenesis of complex brain disorders and discovering novel treatments. As a highly social and genetically tractable organism, zebrafish have recently been applied to model a variety of deficits relevant to ASD. Here, we discuss the developing utility of zebrafish models of ASD, as well as current behavioral, toxicological and genetic models of ASD, and future directions of research in this field.

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