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Novel mouse model for autism yields clues to a 50-year-old mystery
Date:3/20/2012

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.


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Contact: Bill Snyder
william.snyder@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-4747
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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