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Dev Psychobiol. 2020 Jan;62(1):77-87. doi: 10.1002/dev.21914. Epub 2019 Sep 11.

Early exposure to a methyl donor supplemented diet and the development of repetitive motor behavior in a mouse model.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.


Motor behaviors that are repetitive and exhibit little variability in form are common in neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., autism spectrum disorder). C58 mice exhibit persistent, high levels of repetitive motor behavior when reared in restricted, but not enriched, environments implicating epigenetic mechanisms (e.g., DNA methylation). We sought to determine if alteration of DNA methylation played a role in the development of repetitive behavior in C58 mice. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that early exposure (in utero and preweaning) to a methyl donor supplemented diet would alter the developmental trajectory of repetitive behavior. Such dietary exposure resulted in significant attenuation of repetitive motor behavior development, persisting through early adulthood. This was despite mice being housed in standard cages and maintained on a standard diet, postweaning. Early exposure to methyl donor supplementation not only affected the frequency of repetitive behavior but also its temporal structure, resulting in more variable patterns of repetitive behavior. Early exposure to the diet was also shown to induce long-lasting increases in DNA methylation in brain tissue of female mice. The role for alterations in DNA methylation in this model may be one mechanism accounting for the robust effects of the environment on the development of repetitive behavior.


C58 mice; developmental trajectory; methyl donor supplemented diet; repetitive behavior


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