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OBJECTIVE: Prenatal exposure to valproic acid (VPA) enhances the risk for later development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). An altered gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system may be a key factor in ASD. Here we investigated possible changes in the GABA system in rats exposed to a low dose of prenatal VPA. METHOD: We performed autoradiography with [3H]muscimol, (a GABAA receptor agonist), and [11C]Ro15-4513 (a partial agonist of the GABAA α1+5 receptor subtypes), in brain sections containing amygdala, thalamus and hippocampus of rats treated prenatally with 20 mg/kg VPA or saline from the 12th day of gestation. Result Prenatal VPA significantly increased [11C]Ro15-4513 binding in the left amygdala compared with controls (p<0.05). This difference was not observed in the hippocampus, thalamus or right amygdala. No differences were observed in [3H]muscimol binding. CONCLUSION: We observed an asymmetric increase in GABAA receptor binding. Disturbances in the GABAA receptor system have also been detected in human autism with [11C]Ro15-4513.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Neuropsychiatr

Publication Date





309 - 314


GABA, [11C]Ro-154513, autism spectrum disorders, autoradiography, valproic acid, Amygdala, Animals, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Autoradiography, Azides, Benzodiazepines, Carbon Radioisotopes, Disease Models, Animal, Female, GABA Agents, GABA-A Receptor Agonists, Male, Muscimol, Pregnancy, Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects, Rats, Receptors, GABA-A, Valproic Acid