According to the "extreme-male brain" theory, elevated fetal testosterone levels may partly explain the skewed sex ratio found in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Correcting this testosterone imbalance by increasing estrogen levels may mitigate the abnormal phenotype. Accordingly, while control heterozygous reeler (rl/+) male mice - a putative model of neuroanatomical and behavioral endophenotypes in ASD - show a decreased number of Purkinje cells (PC) compared to control wild-type (+/+) littermates, neonatal estradiol administration has been shown to correct this deficit in the short-term (i.e. on postnatal day 15). Here, we further investigated the neuroanatomical and behavioral abnormalities of rl/+ male mice and the potential compensatory effects of neonatal treatment with estradiol. In a longitudinal study, we observed that: i) infant rl/+ mice showed reduced motivation for social stimuli; ii) adult rl/+ male mice showed reduced cognitive flexibility; iii) the number of amygdalar parvalbumin-positive GABAergic interneurons were remarkably reduced in rl/+ mice; iv) neonatal estradiol administration into the cisterna magna reverted the abnormal profile both at the behavioral and at the neuroanatomical level in the amygdala but did not compensate for the cerebellar abnormalities in adulthood. This study supports the view that an increased excitation-to-inhibition ratio in the cerebellum and in the amygdala during a critical window of development could be crucial to the social and cognitive phenotype of male rl/+ mice, and that acute estradiol treatment during this critical window may mitigate symptoms' severity.
|Numero di pagine||14|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Pubblicato - 2010|