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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Aug;40(9):2228-39. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.66. Epub 2015 Mar 10.

GABAB Receptor Agonist R-Baclofen Reverses Social Deficits and Reduces Repetitive Behavior in Two Mouse Models of Autism.

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MIND Institute, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, CA, USA.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed by two core behavioral criteria, unusual reciprocal social interactions and communication, and stereotyped, repetitive behaviors with restricted interests. Excitatory/inhibitory imbalance is a prominent hypothesis for the etiology of autism. The selective GABAB receptor agonist R-baclofen previously reversed social deficits and reduced repetitive behaviors in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome, and Arbaclofen improved some clinical symptoms in some Fragile X and ASD patients. To evaluate R-baclofen in a broader range of mouse models of ASD, we tested both the R-baclofen enantiomer and the less potent S-baclofen enantiomer in two inbred strains of mice that display low sociability and/or high repetitive or stereotyped behaviors. R-baclofen treatment reversed social approach deficits in BTBR T+ Itpr3tf/J (BTBR), reduced repetitive self-grooming and high marble burying scores in BTBR, and reduced stereotyped jumping in C58/J (C58), at nonsedating doses. S-baclofen produced minimal effects at the same doses. These findings encourage investigations of R-baclofen in other preclinical model systems. Additional clinical studies may be warranted to further evaluate the hypothesis that the GABAB receptor represents a promising pharmacological target for treating appropriately stratified subsets of individuals with ASD.

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