Background: The social motivational theory of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) focuses on social anhedonia as key causal feature of the impaired peer relationships that characterize ASD patients. ASD prevalence is higher in boys, but increasing evidence suggests underdiagnosis and undertreatment in girls. We showed that stress-induced motivational anhedonia is relieved by repeated treatment with fenofibrate (FBR), a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) agonist. Here, we used the valproic acid (VPA) model of ASD in rats to examine male and female phenotypes and assess whether FBR administration from weaning to young adulthood relieved social impairments. Methods: Male and female rats exposed to saline or VPA at gestational day 12.5 received standard or FBR-enriched diet from postnatal day 21 to 48–53, when behavioral tests and ex vivo neurochemical analyses were performed. Phosphorylation levels of DARPP-32 in response to social and nonsocial cues, as index of dopamine D1 receptor activation, levels of expression of PPARα, vesicular glutamatergic and GABAergic transporters, and postsynaptic density protein PSD-95 were analyzed by immunoblotting in selected brain regions. Results: FBR administration relieved social impairment and perseverative behavior in VPA-exposed male and female rats, but it was only effective on female stereotypies. Dopamine D1 receptor signaling triggered by social interaction in the nucleus accumbens shell was blunted in VPA-exposed rats, and it was rescued by FBR treatment only in males. VPA-exposed rats of both sexes exhibited an increased ratio of striatal excitatory over inhibitory synaptic markers that was normalized by FBR treatment. Limitations: This study did not directly address the extent of motivational deficit in VPA-exposed rats and whether FBR administration restored the likely decreased motivation to operate for social reward. Future studies using operant behavior protocols will address this relevant issue. Conclusions: The results support the involvement of impaired motivational mechanisms in ASD-like social deficits and suggest the rationale for a possible pharmacological treatment. Moreover, the study highlights sex-related differences in the expression of ASD-like symptoms and their differential responses to FBR treatment.

Scheggi, S., Guzzi, F., Braccagni, G., De Montis, M., Parenti, M., Gambarana, C. (2020). Targeting PPARα in the rat valproic acid model of autism: focus on social motivational impairment and sex-related differences. MOLECULAR AUTISM, 11(1), 62-78 [10.1186/s13229-020-00358-x].

Targeting PPARα in the rat valproic acid model of autism: focus on social motivational impairment and sex-related differences

Guzzi, Francesca;Parenti, Marco;
2020

Abstract

Background: The social motivational theory of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) focuses on social anhedonia as key causal feature of the impaired peer relationships that characterize ASD patients. ASD prevalence is higher in boys, but increasing evidence suggests underdiagnosis and undertreatment in girls. We showed that stress-induced motivational anhedonia is relieved by repeated treatment with fenofibrate (FBR), a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) agonist. Here, we used the valproic acid (VPA) model of ASD in rats to examine male and female phenotypes and assess whether FBR administration from weaning to young adulthood relieved social impairments. Methods: Male and female rats exposed to saline or VPA at gestational day 12.5 received standard or FBR-enriched diet from postnatal day 21 to 48–53, when behavioral tests and ex vivo neurochemical analyses were performed. Phosphorylation levels of DARPP-32 in response to social and nonsocial cues, as index of dopamine D1 receptor activation, levels of expression of PPARα, vesicular glutamatergic and GABAergic transporters, and postsynaptic density protein PSD-95 were analyzed by immunoblotting in selected brain regions. Results: FBR administration relieved social impairment and perseverative behavior in VPA-exposed male and female rats, but it was only effective on female stereotypies. Dopamine D1 receptor signaling triggered by social interaction in the nucleus accumbens shell was blunted in VPA-exposed rats, and it was rescued by FBR treatment only in males. VPA-exposed rats of both sexes exhibited an increased ratio of striatal excitatory over inhibitory synaptic markers that was normalized by FBR treatment. Limitations: This study did not directly address the extent of motivational deficit in VPA-exposed rats and whether FBR administration restored the likely decreased motivation to operate for social reward. Future studies using operant behavior protocols will address this relevant issue. Conclusions: The results support the involvement of impaired motivational mechanisms in ASD-like social deficits and suggest the rationale for a possible pharmacological treatment. Moreover, the study highlights sex-related differences in the expression of ASD-like symptoms and their differential responses to FBR treatment.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Autism spectrum disorder, Reward, Dopamine, Valproic acid, Animal models
English
2020
11
1
62
78
62
open
Scheggi, S., Guzzi, F., Braccagni, G., De Montis, M., Parenti, M., Gambarana, C. (2020). Targeting PPARα in the rat valproic acid model of autism: focus on social motivational impairment and sex-related differences. MOLECULAR AUTISM, 11(1), 62-78 [10.1186/s13229-020-00358-x].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/283293
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