Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Agent reduces autism-like behaviors in mice: Boosts sociability, quells repetitiveness

Date:
April 25, 2012
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Summary:
Researchers have reversed behaviors in mice resembling two of the three core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. An experimental agent increased social interactions and lessened repetitive self-grooming behavior in a strain of mice that normally display such autism-like behaviors. Since the same class of agents is being tested in patients with a related syndrome, the findings suggest a strategy for developing a single treatment that could target multiple diagnostic symptoms of ASDs.

A mouse pays a social visit to a novel animal.
Credit: MuYang, Ph.D., and Jacqueline Crawley, Ph.D., NIMH Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience

National Institutes of Health researchers have reversed behaviors in mice resembling two of the three core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). An experimental compound, called GRN-529, increased social interactions and lessened repetitive self-grooming behavior in a strain of mice that normally display such autism-like behaviors, the researchers say.

GRN-529 is a member of a class of agents that inhibit activity of a subtype of receptor protein on brain cells for the chemical messenger glutamate, which are being tested in patients with an autism-related syndrome. Although mouse brain findings often don't translate to humans, the fact that these compounds are already in clinical trials for an overlapping condition strengthens the case for relevance, according to the researchers.

"Our findings suggest a strategy for developing a single treatment that could target multiple diagnostic symptoms," explained Jacqueline Crawley, Ph.D., of the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). "Many cases of autism are caused by mutations in genes that control an ongoing process -- the formation and maturation of synapses, the connections between neurons. If defects in these connections are not hard-wired, the core symptoms of autism may be treatable with medications."

Crawley, Jill Silverman, Ph.D., and colleagues at NIMH and Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development, Groton, CT, report on their discovery April 25th, 2012 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

"These new results in mice support NIMH-funded research in humans to create treatments for the core symptoms of autism," said NIMH director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "While autism has been often considered only as a disability in need of rehabilitation, we can now address autism as a disorder responding to biomedical treatments."

Crawley's team followed-up on clues from earlier findings hinting that inhibitors of the receptor, called mGluR5, might reduce ASD symptoms. This class of agents -- compounds similar to GRN-529, used in the mouse study -- are in clinical trials for patients with the most common form of inherited intellectual and developmental disabilities, Fragile X syndrome, about one third of whom also meet criteria for ASDs.

To test their hunch, the researchers examined effects of GRN-529 in a naturally occurring inbred strain of mice that normally display autism-relevant behaviors. Like children with ASDs, these BTBR mice interact and communicate relatively less with each other and engage in repetitive behaviors -- most typically, spending an inordinate amount of time grooming themselves.

Crawley's team found that BTBR mice injected with GRN-529 showed reduced levels of repetitive self-grooming and spent more time around -- and sniffing nose-to-nose with -- a strange mouse.

Moreover, GRN-529 almost completely stopped repetitive jumping in another strain of mice.

"These inbred strains of mice are similar, behaviorally, to individuals with autism for whom the responsible genetic factors are unknown, which accounts for about three fourths of people with the disorders," noted Crawley. "Given the high costs -- monetary and emotional -- to families, schools, and health care systems, we are hopeful that this line of studies may help meet the need for medications that treat core symptoms."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. L. Silverman, D. G. Smith, S. J. S. Rizzo, M. N. Karras, S. M. Turner, S. S. Tolu, D. K. Bryce, D. L. Smith, K. Fonseca, R. H. Ring, J. N. Crawley. Negative Allosteric Modulation of the mGluR5 Receptor Reduces Repetitive Behaviors and Rescues Social Deficits in Mouse Models of Autism. Science Translational Medicine, 2012; 4 (131): 131ra51 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003501

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Agent reduces autism-like behaviors in mice: Boosts sociability, quells repetitiveness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120425143634.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. (2012, April 25). Agent reduces autism-like behaviors in mice: Boosts sociability, quells repetitiveness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120425143634.htm
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Agent reduces autism-like behaviors in mice: Boosts sociability, quells repetitiveness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120425143634.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A new study found fewer deaths from prescription drug overdoses in states that have legalized medical marijuana. But experts disagree on the results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heart Group: E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit

Heart Group: E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) The American Heart Association's first policy statement on electronic cigarettes backs them as a last resort to help smokers quit and calls for more regulation to keep them away from youth. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Push For Later Start Times As School Year Kicks Off

Doctors Push For Later Start Times As School Year Kicks Off

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) The American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest group pushing for middle schools and high schools to start later, for the sake of their kids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins