Zinc as a therapy in a rat model of autism prenatally induced by valproic acid.

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Feb 23;:

Authors: Cezar LC, Kirsten TB, da Fonseca CCN, de Lima APN, Bernardi MM, Felicio LF

Autism is characterized by numerous behavioral impairments, such as in communication, socialization and cognition. Recent studies have suggested that valproic acid (VPA), an anti-epileptic drug with teratogenic activity, is related to autism. In rodents, VPA exposure during pregnancy induces autistic-like effects. Exposure to VPA may alter zinc metabolism resulting in a transient deficiency of zinc. Therefore, we selected zinc as a prenatal treatment to prevent VPA-induced impairments in a rat model of autism. Wistar female rats received either saline solution or VPA (400 mg/kg, i.p) on gestational day (GD) 12.5. To test the zinc supplementation effect, after 1 h of treatment with saline or VPA, a dose of zinc (2 mg/kg, s.c.) was injected. The offspring were tested for abnormal communication behaviors with an ultrasound vocalization task on postnatal day (PND) 11, repetitive behaviors and cognitive ability with a T-maze task on PND 29, and social interaction with a play behavior task on PND 30. Tyrosine hydroxylase protein (TH) expression was evaluated in the striatum. Prenatal VPA decreased ultrasonic vocalization, induced repetitive/restricted behaviors and cognitive inflexibility, impaired socialization, and reduced striatal TH levels compared with control group. Zinc treatment reduced VPA-induced autistic-like behaviors. However, we found no evidence of an effect of zinc on the VPA-induced reduction in TH expression. The persistence of low TH expression in the VPA-Zn group suggests that Zn-induced behavioral improvement in autistic rats may not depend on TH activity.

PMID: 29481896 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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