Rats selectively bred for low levels of play-induced 50kHz vocalizations as a model for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A role for NMDA receptors

Jeffrey Burgdorf*, Joseph R. Moskal, Stefan M. Brudzynski, Jaak Panksepp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Early childhood autism is characterized by deficits in social approach and play behaviors, socio-emotional relatedness, and communication/speech abnormalities, as well as repetitive behaviors. These core neuropsychological features of autism can be modeled in laboratory rats, and the results may be useful for drug discovery and therapeutic development. We review data that show that rats selectively bred for low rates of play-related pro-social ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) can be used to model social deficit symptoms of autism. Low-line animals engage in less social contact time with conspecifics, show lower rates of play induced pro-social USVs, and show an increased proportion of non-frequency modulated (i.e. monotonous) ultrasonic vocalizations compared to non-selectively bred random-line animals. Gene expression patterns in the low-line animals show significant enrichment in autism-associated genes, and the NMDA receptor family was identified as a significant hub. Treatment of low-line animals with the NMDAR functional glycine site partial agonist, GLYX-13, rescued the deficits in play-induced pro-social 50-kHz USVs and reduced monotonous USVs. Since the NMDA receptor has been implicated in the genesis of autistic symptoms, it is possible that GLYX-13 may be of therapeutic value in the treatment of autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume251
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2013

Keywords

  • Autism
  • GLYX-13
  • NMDA Receptor
  • Rat
  • Selective breeding
  • Ultrasonic vocalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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