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Modeling Features of Autism in Rodents 

Modeling Features of Autism in Rodents

Chapter:
Modeling Features of Autism in Rodents
Author(s):

Elaine Y. Hsiao

, Catherine Bregere

, Natalia Malkova

, and Paul H. Patterson

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780195371826.003.0059
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date: 28 June 2017

Animal models of many neurological diseases (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, multiple sclerosis) have proven enormously useful for determining the roles of genes and environment, for understanding pathogenesis, and for testing potential therapeutic approaches. There is some skepticism, however, concerning models of psychiatric or mental illnesses. Although autism has a strong genetic basis, it is not a monogenic disorder, and thus it is not possible to establish an immediately relevant genetic mouse model, as was done with Huntington's disease. Nonetheless, there are several genetic changes that do entail an elevated risk for autism, and mouse models of these changes share some features with the human disorder. There are also several human disorders caused by single gene mutations that display autistic features and mouse mutants of these mutations display behavior or neuropathology relevant to autism. In addition, models based on autism etiology are valuable, and there are several known environmental risk factors that are being successfully modeled in rodents. Finally, there are brain lesion models of interest. This chapter discusses current genetic, environmental risk factor, and lesion models.

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