Behavioural brain research

Reduced prefrontal dopaminergic activity in valproic acid-treated mouse autism model.

PMID 25907743


Previous studies suggest that dysfunction of neurotransmitter systems is associated with the pathology of autism in humans and the disease model rodents, but the precise mechanism is not known. Rodent offspring exposed prenatally to VPA shows autism-related behavioral abnormalities. The present study examined the effect of prenatal VPA exposure on brain monoamine neurotransmitter systems in male and female mice. The prenatal VPA exposure did not affect the levels of dopamine (DA), noradrenaline (NA), serotonin (5-HT) and their metabolites in the prefrontal cortex and striatum, while it significantly reduced methamphetamine (METH) (1.0 mg/kg)-induced hyperlocomotion in male offspring. In vivo microdialysis study demonstrated that prenatal VPA exposure attenuated METH-induced increases in extracellular DA levels in the prefrontal cortex, while it did not affect those in extracellular NA and 5-HT levels. Prenatal VPA exposure also decreased METH-induced c-Fos expression in the prefrontal cortex and the mRNA levels of DA D1 and D2 receptors in the prefrontal cortex. These effects of VPA were not observed in the striatum. In contrast to male offspring, prenatal VPA exposure did not affect METH-induced increases in locomotor activity and prefrontal DA levels and the D1 and D2 receptor mRNA levels in the prefrontal cortex in female offspring. These findings suggest that prenatal VPA exposure causes hypofunction of prefrontal DA system in a sex-dependent way.