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Neurosci Lett. 2012 Jan 11;506(2):208-13. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2011.11.007. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Hippocampus/amygdala alterations, loss of heparan sulfates, fractones and ventricle wall reduction in adult BTBR T+ tf/J mice, animal model for autism.

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Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, United States.


Multiple studies converge to implicate alterations of the hippocampus and amygdala in the pathology of autism. We have previously reported anatomical alterations of the meninges, vasculature and fractones, the specialized extracellular matrix (ECM) of the subventricular zone, in the forebrain of adult BTBR T+ tf/J mice, animal model for autism. Here, we used bisbenzidine cell nucleus staining and dual immunofluorescence histochemistry for laminin and N-sulfated heparan sulfate proteoglycans (NS-HSPG) to examine a series of brain sections containing the amygdala and hippocampus in the adult BTBR T+ tf/j mouse. We observed an excessive separation of the two hippocampi, a modified trajectory of the meninges leading to a shrunken choroid plexus in the lateral ventricle, a shorter granular layer of the dentate gyrus, and a reduced size of the amygdala nuclei. The lateral ventricle near the amygdala, and the third ventricle were shrunken. The number and size of fractones, and their immunoreactivity for NS-HSPG, were reduced throughout the third and lateral ventricles walls. Enlarged blood vessels were found at the endopiriform cortex/amygdala interface. These results show anatomical alterations of the hippocampal/amygdala that are associated with defects of the choroid plexus/ventricular system and the ECM in the BTBR T+ TF/J mouse. Similar alterations of the hippocampus/amygdala axis in humans with autism to these observed in BTBR T+ tf/J mice make this animal model highly valuable for the study of autism. Moreover, the meningo/vascular and ECM alterations in BTBR T+ Tf/J mice suggest a possible role of the brain connective tissue in autism.

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