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Behav Brain Res. 2019 May 17;364:11-18. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.01.034. Epub 2019 Jan 22.

Abnormal empathy-like pro-social behaviour in the valproic acid model of autism spectrum disorder.

Author information

1
Translational Research Group in Autism Spectrum Disorders-GETTEA, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Ramiro Barcelos street, 2600, 90035-003, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; Department of Biochemistry, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Ramiro Barcelos street, 2600, 90035-003, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; National Institute of Science and Technology on Neuroimmunomodulation (INCT-NIM), Brasil avenue, 4365, Manguinhos, 21045-900, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.
2
Translational Research Group in Autism Spectrum Disorders-GETTEA, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Ramiro Barcelos street, 2600, 90035-003, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; National Institute of Science and Technology on Neuroimmunomodulation (INCT-NIM), Brasil avenue, 4365, Manguinhos, 21045-900, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil; Department of Biochemistry, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, 955 Main Street, Suite 4102, NY, USA.
3
School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, PR1 2HE, Lancashire, Preston, England, UK.
4
Translational Research Group in Autism Spectrum Disorders-GETTEA, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Ramiro Barcelos street, 2600, 90035-003, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; Department of Biochemistry, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Ramiro Barcelos street, 2600, 90035-003, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; Child Neurology Unit, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA), Ramiro Barcelos, 2350, 90035-903, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.
5
Translational Research Group in Autism Spectrum Disorders-GETTEA, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Ramiro Barcelos street, 2600, 90035-003, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; National Institute of Science and Technology on Neuroimmunomodulation (INCT-NIM), Brasil avenue, 4365, Manguinhos, 21045-900, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil; School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, PR1 2HE, Lancashire, Preston, England, UK. Electronic address: vbambini-junior@uclan.ac.uk.

Abstract

Impairments in social behaviour are a defining feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals with ASD also usually present some difficulty to recognize or understand another person's feelings. Therefore, it is possible that altered empathy processing could hinder typical social interaction in ASD. Recently, robust paradigms confirmed that rodents show primordial forms of empathy-like behaviour. Therefore, in this work, we used one of these new protocols to test pro-social behaviour in the rat model of autism induced by Valproic Acid (VPA). We also evaluated possible beneficial effects of Resveratrol, since it can prevent social deficits in the VPA model. Rats were tested on their ability to open a restrainer to release a trapped conspecific. Exposure to VPA precludes the timely manifestation of this empathy-like behaviour, but does not affect its continuation after its first expression. We also found a significant correlation between average speed during the first day of test and becoming an Opener. Similarly, rats able to open the restrainer on the first day had an increased likelihood of repeating this behaviour in the later days of the testing programme. We did not find any protective effects of Resveratrol. Further investigation of empathy-like behaviour in the VPA model and in other models of autism could help to clarify the behavioural and neural processes underpinning the basic aspects of empathy alterations in autistic individuals.

KEYWORDS:

Animal models; Autism; Empathy; Pro-social behaviour; Valproate

PMID:
30682436
DOI:
10.1016/j.bbr.2019.01.034

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