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Animal model of autism induced by prenatal exposure to valproate: altered glutamate metabolism in the hippocampus

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Roberta Bristot Silvestrin
  • Victorio Bambini-Junior
  • Fabiana Galland
  • Larissa Daniele Bobermim
  • André Quincozes-Santos
  • Renata Torres Abib
  • Caroline Zanotto
  • Cristiane Batassini
  • Giovana Brolese
  • Carlos-Alberto Gonçalves
  • Rudimar Riesgo
  • Carmem Gottfried
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>7/02/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Brain Research
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)52-60
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date5/12/12
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by deficits in social interaction, language and communication impairments and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors, with involvement of several areas of the central nervous system (CNS), including hippocampus. Although neurons have been the target of most studies reported in the literature, recently, considerable attention has been centered upon the functionality and plasticity of glial cells, particularly astrocytes. These cells participate in normal brain development and also in neuropathological processes. The present work investigated hippocampi from 15 (P15) and 120 (P120) days old male rats prenatally exposed to valproic acid (VPA) as an animal model of autism. Herein, we analyzed astrocytic parameters such as glutamate transporters and glutamate uptake, glutamine synthetase (GS) activity and glutathione (GSH) content. In the VPA group glutamate uptake was unchanged at P15 and increased 160% at P120; the protein expression of GLAST did not change neither in P15 nor in P120, while GLT1 decreased 40% at P15 and increased 92% at P120; GS activity increased 43% at P15 and decreased 28% at P120; GSH content was unaltered at P15 and had a 27% increase at P120. These data highlight that the astrocytic clearance and destination of glutamate in the synaptic cleft might be altered in autism, pointing out important aspects to be considered from both pathophysiologic and pharmacological approaches in ASD.

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