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Sci Transl Med. 2018 Oct 3;10(461). pii: eaam8434. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aam8434.

GABAA receptor availability is not altered in adults with autism spectrum disorder or in mouse models.

Author information

1
Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences and Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
2
Centre for Psychiatry Research, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm County Council, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden.
3
Department of Neuroimaging, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology, and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
4
Division of Imaging Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, King's College London, London, UK.
5
Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at Karolinska Institutet (KIND), Pediatric Neuropsychiatry Unit, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
6
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Center for Psychiatry Research, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden.
7
Personalised Healthcare and Biomarkers, AstraZeneca, PET Science Centre, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
8
Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, Centre for Psychiatry, Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, London, UK.
9
Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
10
Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences and Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK. declan.murphy@kcl.ac.uk.

Abstract

Preliminary studies have suggested that γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors, and potentially the GABAA α5 subtype, are deficient in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, prior studies have been confounded by the effects of medications, and these studies did not compare findings across different species. We measured both total GABAA and GABAA α5 receptor availability in two positron emission tomography imaging studies. We used the tracer [11C]flumazenil in 15 adults with ASD and in 15 control individuals without ASD and the tracer [11C]Ro15-4513 in 12 adults with ASD and in 16 control individuals without ASD. All participants were free of medications. We also performed autoradiography, using the same tracers, in three mouse models of ASD: the Cntnap2 knockout mouse, the Shank3 knockout mouse, and mice carrying a 16p11.2 deletion. We found no differences in GABAA receptor or GABAA α5 subunit availability in any brain region of adults with ASD compared to those without ASD. There were no differences in GABAA receptor or GABAA α5 subunit availability in any of the three mouse models. However, adults with ASD did display altered performance on a GABA-sensitive perceptual task. Our data suggest that GABAA receptor availability may be normal in adults with ASD, although GABA signaling may be functionally impaired.

PMID:
30282698
DOI:
10.1126/scitranslmed.aam8434
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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