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Pharmacological modulation of AMPA receptor rescues social impairments in animal models of autism.


ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, featuring social communication deficit and repetitive/restricted behaviors as common symptoms. Its prevalence has continuously increased, but, till now, there are no therapeutic approaches to relieve the core symptoms, particularly social deficit. In previous studies, abnormal function of the glutamatergic neural system has been proposed as a critical mediator and therapeutic target of ASD-associated symptoms. Here, we investigated the possible roles of ?-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors (AMPARs) in autism symptoms using two well-known autistic animal models, Cntnap2 knockout (KO) mice and in utero valproic acid-exposed ICR (VPA) mice. We found that Cntnap2 KO mice displayed decreased glutamate receptor expression and transmission. Contrarily, VPA mice exhibited increased glutamate receptor expression and transmission. Next, we investigated whether AMPAR modulators (positive-allosteric-modulator for Cntnap2 KO mice and antagonist for VPA mice) can improve autistic symptoms by normalizing the aberrant excitatory transmission in the respective animal models. Interestingly, the AMPAR modulation specifically ameliorated social deficits in both animal models. These results indicated that AMPAR-derived excitatory neural transmission changes can affect normal social behavior. To validate this, we injected an AMPAR agonist or antagonist in control ICR mice and, interestingly, these treatments impaired only the social behavior, without affecting the repetitive and hyperactive behaviors. Collectively, these results provide insight into the role of AMPARs in the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of ASD, and demonstrate that modulation of AMPAR can be a potential target for the treatment of social behavior deficits associated with ASD.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6300529 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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