Increased GABAA receptor binding in amygdala after prenatal administration of valproic acid to rats.
Bertelsen F., Møller A., Folloni D., Drasbek KR., Scheel-Krüger J., Landau AM.
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.