Navigation Links
Novel mouse model for autism yields clues to a 50-year-old mystery

Early disruptions in serotonin signaling in the brain may contribute to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and other "enduring effects on behavior," Vanderbilt University researchers report.

Serotonin is a brain chemical that carries signals across the synapse, or gap between nerve cells. The supply of serotonin is regulated by the serotonin transporter (SERT). In 2005, a team of Vanderbilt researchers led by Randy Blakely and James Sutcliffe identified rare genetic variations in children with ASD that disrupt SERT function.

In a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the researchers report the creation of a mouse model that expressed the most common of these variations.

The change is a very small one in biochemical terms, yet it appears to cause SERT in the brain to go into "overdrive" and restrict the availability of serotonin at synapses.

"The SERT protein in the brain of our mice appears to exhibit the exaggerated function and lack of regulation we saw using cell models," said Blakely, director of the Vanderbilt Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience Research.

"Remarkably, these mice show changes in social behavior and communication from early life that may parallel aspects of ASD," noted first author Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, assistant professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Pharmacology.

The researchers conclude that a lack of serotonin during development may lead to long-standing changes in the way the brain is "wired."

In 1961, investigators at Yale discovered that as many as 30 percent of children with autism have elevated blood levels of serotonin, a finding described as "hyperserotonemia."

Since then, these findings have been replicated many times. Indeed, hyperserotonemia is the most consistently reported biochemical finding in autism, and is a highly inherited trait. Yet, the cause or significance of this "bio-marker" has remained shrouded in mystery.

Until now. In the current study, Veenstra-VanderWeele, Blakely and their colleagues showed that they could produce hyperserotonemia in mice that express a variant of a human SERT gene associated with autism.

Because the genetic change makes the transporter more active, higher levels of serotonin accumulate in platelets and therefore in the bloodstream. In the brain, overactive transporters should have the opposite effect lowering serotonin levels at the synapse and producing behavioral changes relevant to autism. That's exactly what the researchers observed.

Of course, no mouse model can completely explain or reproduce the human condition. Neither does a single genetic variation cause autism. Experts believe the wide spectrum of autistic behaviors represents a complex web of interactions between many genes and environmental factors.

But animal models are critical to exploring more deeply the basis for the developmental changes that are observed in ASD. The scientists are using these mice to explore how altered brain serotonin levels during development may produce long-lasting changes in behavior and impact the risk for autism.


Contact: Bill Snyder
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Related medicine news :

1. Unprecedented academic-industry collaboration seeks new drugs and novel treatments for autism
2. Novel plastics and textiles from waste with the use of microbes
3. UC San Diego among first in nation to treat brain cancer with novel viral vector
4. Students at Western University develop a novel way to teach interdisciplinary care
5. UH Case Medical Center publishes study on novel treatment for skin lymphoma
6. Mass. General researchers find novel way to prevent drug-induced liver injury
7. Rutgers, Massachusetts General investigators find novel way to prevent drug-induced liver injury
8. NIH scientists identify novel approach to view inner workings of viruses
9. Novel Stem Cell Treatment May Hold Promise for Type 1 Diabetes
10. KalVista and JDRF form research partnership for novel treatment of diabetic eye disease
11. Novel brain tumor vaccine acts like bloodhound to locate cancer cells
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Novel mouse model for autism yields clues to a 50-year-old mystery
(Date:12/1/2015)... , ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... radiographic technicians must mark the film for accurate interpretation by the radiologist. The ... Fortunately, an inventor from Sacramento, Calif., has found a way to alleviate this ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... (BHCOE) today announced that the organization has awarded Education and Developmental Therapies (EDT), ... Distinguished Award. The award celebrates exceptional special needs providers that excel in synthesizing ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , ... December 01, 2015 , ... Lutronic, a leading ... Clarity, the latest addition to the devices for sale in the United States. ... Alexandrite and long-pulsed 1064 nm Nd:YAG lasers, into a single platform that is easy ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... XTC Semifinals 2016 ... semi-finalists to head to Las Vegas for CES 2016, the world’s largest Consumer Electronic ... Consumer Technology Association Gary Shapiro, Founding Partner of Pacific Investments Veronica Serra, and venture ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , ... December 01, 2015 , ... Nurotron Biotechnology Co., ... its largest order to date. , The order will be from the China ... Venus Cochlear Implant System is an effective solution for children and adults suffering from ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015  Athletic apparel ... founder have agreed to pay $1.35 million to ... advertised the company,s copper-infused compression clothing would relieve ... arthritis and other diseases. Tommie ... requires the company and its founder and chairman ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015 Assurex Health, ... GeneSight® Psychotropic test giving healthcare providers an expanded range ... for patients suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ... health conditions. i .   ... With the addition of two new drug ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Calif. , Dec. 1, 2015 ... products and services, announced today that it has been ... services organization. Members served by Novation will have access ... devices, sports bracing products and soft goods dedicated to ... --> The aging U.S. population, rising prevalence ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: