Pathophysiological Studies of Monoaminergic Neurotransmission Systems in Valproic Acid-Induced Model of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Hsiao Ying Kuo*, Fu Chin Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with complex etiology. The core syndromes of ASD are deficits in social communication and self-restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. Social communication relies on the proper integration of sensory and motor functions, which is tightly interwoven with the limbic function of reward, motivation, and emotion in the brain. Monoamine neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, are key players in the modulation of neuronal activity. Owing to their broad distribution, the monoamine neurotransmitter systems are well suited to modulate social communication by coordinating sensory, motor, and limbic systems in different brain regions. The complex and diverse functions of monoamine neurotransmission thus render themselves as primary targets of pathophysiological investigation of the etiology of ASD. Clinical studies have reported that children with maternal exposure to valproic acid (VPA) have an increased risk of developing ASD. Extensive animal studies have confirmed that maternal treatments of VPA include ASD-like phenotypes, including impaired social communication and repetitive behavior. Here, given that ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, we begin with an overview of the neural development of monoaminergic systems with their neurochemical properties in the brain. We then review and discuss the evidence of human clinical and animal model studies of ASD with a focus on the VPA-induced pathophysiology of monoamine neurotransmitter systems. We also review the potential interactions of microbiota and monoamine neurotransmitter systems in ASD pathophysiology. Widespread and complex changes in monoamine neurotransmitters are detected in the brains of human patients with ASD and validated in animal models. ASD animal models are not only essential to the characterization of pathogenic mechanisms, but also provide a preclinical platform for developing therapeutic approaches to ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number560
JournalBiomedicines
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Dopamine
  • Histamine
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Norepinephrine
  • Serotonin
  • Valproic acid

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