Impaired synaptic neurotransmission may underly circuit alterations contributing to behavioral autism spectrum disorder (ASD) phenotypes. A critical component of impairments reported in somatosensory and prefrontal cortex of ASD mouse models are parvalbumin (PV)-expressing fast-spiking interneurons. However, it remains unknown whether PV interneurons mediating hippocampal networks crucial to navigation and memory processing are similarly impaired. Using PV-labeled transgenic mice, a battery of behavioral assays, in vitro patch-clamp electrophysiology, and in vivo 32-channel silicon probe local field potential recordings, we address this question in a Cntnap2-null mutant mouse model representing a human ASD risk factor gene. Cntnap2 mice show a reduction in hippocampal PV interneuron density, reduced inhibitory input to CA1 pyramidal cells, deficits in spatial discrimination ability, and frequency-dependent circuit changes within the hippocampus, including alterations in gamma oscillations, sharp-wave ripples, and theta-gamma modulation. Our findings highlight hippocampal involvement in ASD and implicate interneurons as a potential therapeutical target.
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