The core behavioral symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) include dysregulation of social communication and the presence of repetitive behaviors. However, there is no pharmacological agent that is currently used to target these core symptoms. Epigenetic dysregulation has been implicated in the etiology of ASD, and may present a pharmacological target. The effect of sodium butyrate, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, on social behavior and repetitive behavior, and the frontal cortex transcriptome, was examined in the BTBR autism mouse model. A 100 mg/kg dose, but not a 1200 mg/kg dose, of sodium butyrate attenuated social deficits in the BTBR mouse model. In addition, both doses decreased marble burying, an indication of repetitive behavior, but had no significant effect on self-grooming. Using RNA-seq, we determined that the 100 mg/kg dose of sodium butyrate induced changes in many behavior-related genes in the prefrontal cortex, and particularly affected genes involved in neuronal excitation or inhibition. The decrease in several excitatory neurotransmitter and neuronal activation marker genes, including cFos Grin2b, and Adra1, together with the increase in inhibitory neurotransmitter genes Drd2 and Gabrg1, suggests that sodium butyrate promotes the transcription of inhibitory pathway transcripts. Finally, DMCM, a GABA reverse agonist, decreased social behaviors in sodium-butyrate treated BTBR mice, suggesting that sodium butyrate increases social behaviors through modulation of the excitatory/inhibitory balance. Therefore, transcriptional modulation by sodium butyrate may have beneficial effects on autism related behaviors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to acknowledge Dr. Marcela Karpuj from the Bar Ilan University Faculty of Medicine Genomics Center and Dr. Eli Reuveni from the Bar Ilan University Faculty of Medicine for their constructive help in the RNA-seq data preparation and analysis, and Dr. Yehuda Brody and Dr. Dafna Ben Yosef from the Bar Ilan University Faculty of Medicine Microscopy Department for their assistance in immunohistochemistry quantification. This study was funded by the Teva Pharmaceuticals National Network of Excellence in Neuroscience grant program and by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 1047/12 ).
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.