Autism spectrum disorder is associated with alterations in GABAergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission. Here, we aimed to determine the concentration of GABA, glutamate, glutamine, aspartate, taurine, and glycine in brain tissue and plasma of rats prenatally exposed to valproic acid (VPA), a well-characterized experimental model of autism. Pregnant rats were injected with VPA (600mg/Kg) during the twelfth-embryonic-day. Control rats were injected with saline. On the fourteen-postnatal-day, rats from both groups (males and females) were anesthetized, euthanized by decapitation and their brain dissected out. The frontal cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, brain stem and cerebellum were dissected and homogenized. Homogenates were centrifuged and supernatants were used to quantify amino acid concentrations by HPLC coupled with fluorometric detection. Blood samples were obtained by a cardiac puncture; plasma was separated and deproteinized to quantify amino acid concentration by HPLC. We found that, in VPA rats, glutamate and glutamine concentrations were increased in hippocampus and glycine concentration was increased in cortex. We did not find changes in other regions or in plasma amino acid concentration in the VPA group with respect to control group. Our results suggest that VPA exposure in utero may impair inhibitory and excitatory amino acid transmission in the infant brain.
About The Expert
Ángel Alberto Puig-Lagunes