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J Neurochem. 2011 Jan;116(2):291-303. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2010.07104.x. Epub 2010 Dec 2.

Density and function of central serotonin (5-HT) transporters, 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptors, and effects of their targeting on BTBR T+tf/J mouse social behavior.

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Department of Physiology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900, USA.


BTBR mice are potentially useful tools for autism research because their behavior parallels core social interaction impairments and restricted-repetitive behaviors. Altered regulation of central serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmission may underlie such behavioral deficits. To test this, we compared 5-HT transporter (SERT), 5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(2A) receptor densities among BTBR and C57 strains. Autoradiographic [(3) H] cyanoimipramine (1 nM) binding to SERT was 20-30% lower throughout the adult BTBR brain as compared to C57BL/10J mice. In hippocampal membrane homogenates, [(3) H] citalopram maximal binding (B(max) ) to SERT was 95 ± 13 fmol/mg protein in BTBR and 171 ± 20 fmol/mg protein in C57BL/6J mice, and the BTBR dissociation constant (K(D) ) was 2.0 ± 0.3 nM versus 1.1 ± 0.2 in C57BL/6J mice. Hippocampal 5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(2A) receptor binding was similar among strains. However, 8-OH-DPAT-stimulated [(35) S] GTPγS binding in the BTBR hippocampal CA(1) region was 28% higher, indicating elevated 5-HT(1A) capacity to activate G-proteins. In BTBR mice, the SERT blocker, fluoxetine (10 mg/kg) and the 5-HT(1A) receptor partial-agonist, buspirone (2 mg/kg) enhanced social interactions. The D(2) /5-HT(2) receptor antagonist, risperidone (0.1 mg/kg) reduced marble burying, but failed to improve sociability. Overall, altered SERT and/or 5-HT(1A) functionality in hippocampus could contribute to the relatively low sociability of BTBR mice.

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