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Increased GABAA receptor binding in amygdala after prenatal administration of valproic acid to rats

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OBJECTIVE: Prenatal exposure to valproic acid (VPA) enhances the risk for later development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). An altered gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system may be a key factor in ASD. Here we investigated possible changes in the GABA system in rats exposed to a low dose of prenatal VPA.

METHOD: We performed autoradiography with [3H]muscimol, (a GABAA receptor agonist), and [11C]Ro15-4513 (a partial agonist of the GABAA α1+5 receptor subtypes), in brain sections containing amygdala, thalamus and hippocampus of rats treated prenatally with 20 mg/kg VPA or saline from the 12th day of gestation. Result Prenatal VPA significantly increased [11C]Ro15-4513 binding in the left amygdala compared with controls (p<0.05). This difference was not observed in the hippocampus, thalamus or right amygdala. No differences were observed in [3H]muscimol binding.

CONCLUSION: We observed an asymmetric increase in GABAA receptor binding. Disturbances in the GABAA receptor system have also been detected in human autism with [11C]Ro15-4513.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Neuropsychiatrica
Pages (from-to)309-3014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

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