Experimental Neurology : Special Section : Advancing Autism Research through Animal Models

samedi 6 janvier 2018

La revue Experimental Neurology propose une élection d’articles de recherche sur les modèles animaux et les TSA.
1. Pardo CA, Meffert MK. Animal models in autism research : The legacy of Paul H. Patterson. Experimental neurology. 2018 ; 299(Pt A) : 197-8.

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2. Schmeisser K, Parker JA. Worms on the spectrum - C. elegans models in autism research. Experimental neurology. 2018 ; 299(Pt A) : 199-206.

The small non-parasitic nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is widely used in neuroscience thanks to its well-understood development and lineage of the nervous system. Furthermore, C. elegans has been used to model many human developmental and neurological conditions to better understand disease mechanisms and identify potential therapeutic strategies. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the most prevalent of all neurodevelopmental disorders, and the C. elegans system may provide opportunities to learn more about this complex disorder. Since basic cell biology and biochemistry of the C. elegans nervous system is generally very similar to mammals, cellular or molecular phenotypes can be investigated, along with a repertoire of behaviours. For instance, worms have contributed greatly to the understanding of mechanisms underlying mutations in genes coding for synaptic proteins such as neuroligin and neurexin. Using worms to model neurodevelopmental disorders like ASD is an emerging topic that harbours great, untapped potential. This review summarizes the numerous contributions of C. elegans to the field of neurodevelopment and introduces the nematode system as a potential research tool to study essential roles of genes associated with ASD.

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3. Meshalkina DA, M NK, E VK, Collier AD, Echevarria DJ, Abreu MS, Barcellos LJG, Song C, Warnick JE, Kyzar EJ, Kalueff AV. Zebrafish models of autism spectrum disorder. Experimental neurology. 2018 ; 299(Pt A) : 207-16.

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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4. Nicolini C, Fahnestock M. The valproic acid-induced rodent model of autism. Experimental neurology. 2018 ; 299(Pt A) : 217-27.

Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social communication and interaction and by repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities. While autism has a strong genetic component, environmental factors including toxins, pesticides, infection and drugs are known to confer autism susceptibility, likely by inducing epigenetic changes. In particular, exposure to valproic acid (VPA) during pregnancy has been demonstrated to increase the risk of autism in children. Furthermore, rodents prenatally exposed to this drug display behavioral phenotypes characteristics of the human condition. Indeed, in utero exposure of rodents to VPA represents a robust model of autism exhibiting face, construct and predictive validity. This model might better represent the many cases of idiopathic autism which are of environmental/epigenetic origins than do transgenic models carrying mutations in single autism-associated genes. The VPA model provides a valuable tool to investigate the neurobiology underlying autistic behavior and to screen for novel therapeutics. Here we review the VPA-induced rodent model of autism, highlighting its importance and reliability as an environmentally-induced animal model of autism.

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5. Wong H, Hoeffer C. Maternal IL-17A in autism. Experimental neurology. 2018 ; 299(Pt A) : 228-40.

Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has a strong genetic basis, its etiology is complex, with several genetic factors likely to be involved as well as environmental factors. Immune dysregulation has gained significant attention as a causal mechanism in ASD pathogenesis. ASD has been associated with immune abnormalities in the brain and periphery, including inflammatory disorders and autoimmunity in not only the affected individuals but also their mothers. Prenatal exposure to maternal immune activation (MIA) has been implicated as an environmental risk factor for ASD. In support of this notion, animal models have shown that MIA results in offspring with behavioral, neurological, and immunological abnormalities similar to those observed in ASD. This raises the question of how MIA exposure can lead to ASD in susceptible individuals. Recent evidence points to a potential inflammation pathway linking MIA-associated ASD with the activity of T helper 17 (Th17) lymphocytes and their effector cytokine interleukin-17A (IL-17A). IL-17A has been implicated from human studies and elevated IL-17A levels in the blood have been found to correlate with phenotypic severity in a subset of ASD individuals. In MIA model mice, elevated IL-17A levels also have been observed. Additionally, antibody blockade to inhibit IL-17A signaling was found to prevent ASD-like behaviors in offspring exposed to MIA. Therefore, IL-17A dysregulation may play a causal role in the development of ASD. The source of increased IL-17A in the MIA mouse model was attributed to maternal Th17 cells because genetic removal of the transcription factor RORgammat to selectively inhibit Th17 differentiation in pregnant mice was able to prevent ASD-like behaviors in the offspring. Similar to ASD individuals, the MIA-exposed offspring also displayed cortical dysplasia which could be prevented by inhibition of IL-17A signaling in pregnant mice. This finding reveals one possible cellular mechanism through which ASD-related cognitive and behavioral deficits may emerge following maternal inflammation. IL-17A can exert strong effects on cell survival and differentiation and the activity of signal transduction cascades, which can have important consequences during cortical development on neural function. This review examines IL-17A signaling pathways in the context of both immunity and neural function that may contribute to the development of ASD associated with MIA.

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6. Bilbo SD, Block CL, Bolton JL, Hanamsagar R, Tran PK. Beyond infection - Maternal immune activation by environmental factors, microglial development, and relevance for autism spectrum disorders. Experimental neurology. 2018 ; 299(Pt A) : 241-51.

Immune molecules such as cytokines and chemokines and the cells that produce them within the brain, notably microglia, are critical for normal brain development. This recognition has in recent years led to the working hypothesis that inflammatory events during pregnancy, e.g. in response to infection, may disrupt the normal expression of immune molecules during critical stages of neural development and thereby contribute to the risk for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This hypothesis has in large part been shepherded by the work of Dr. Paul Patterson and colleagues, which has elegantly demonstrated that a single viral infection or injection of a viral mimetic to pregnant mice significantly and persistently impacts offspring immune and nervous system function, changes that underlie ASD-like behavioral dysfunction including social and communication deficits. Subsequent studies by many labs - in humans and in non-human animal models - have supported the hypothesis that ongoing disrupted immune molecule expression and/or neuroinflammation contributes to at least a significant subset of ASD. The heterogeneous clinical and biological phenotypes observed in ASD strongly suggest that in genetically susceptible individuals, environmental risk factors combine or synergize to create a tipping or threshold point for dysfunction. Importantly, animal studies showing a link between maternal immune activation (MIA) and ASD-like outcomes in offspring involve different species and diverse environmental factors associated with ASD in humans, beyond infection, including toxin exposures, maternal stress, and maternal obesity, all of which impact inflammatory or immune pathways. The goal of this review is to highlight the broader implications of Dr. Patterson’s work for the field of autism, with a focus on the impact that MIA by diverse environmental factors has on fetal brain development, immune system development, and the pathophysiology of ASD.

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7. Bauman MD, Schumann CM. Advances in nonhuman primate models of autism : Integrating neuroscience and behavior. Experimental neurology. 2018 ; 299(Pt A) : 252-65.

Given the prevalence and societal impact of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), there is an urgent need to develop innovative preventative strategies and treatments to reduce the alarming number of cases and improve core symptoms for afflicted individuals. Translational efforts between clinical and preclinical research are needed to (i) identify and evaluate putative causes of ASD, (ii) determine the underlying neurobiological mechanisms, (iii) develop and test novel therapeutic approaches and (iv) ultimately translate basic research into safe and effective clinical practices. However, modeling a uniquely human brain disorder, such as ASD, will require sophisticated animal models that capitalize on unique advantages of diverse species including drosophila, zebra fish, mice, rats, and ultimately, species more closely related to humans, such as the nonhuman primate. Here we discuss the unique contributions of the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) model to ongoing efforts to understand the neurobiology of the disorder, focusing on the convergence of brain and behavior outcome measures that parallel features of human ASD.

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