Behavioral assessments of BTBR T+Itpr3tf/J mice by tests of object attention and elevated open platform: Implications for an animal model of psychiatric comorbidity in autism

Owen Y. Chao, Richelle Yunger, Yi-Mei (Amy) Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are diagnosed based on the behavioral criteria of impaired social interaction, defective communication and repetitive behaviors. Psychiatric comorbidities, such as anxiety and intellectual disability, are commonly present in ASD. The BTBR T+ Itpr3tf/J (BTBR) mice display a range of autistic phenotypes, yet whether this mouse model is appropriate to study psychiatric comorbidity in ASD remains unclear. We addressed this issue by subjecting the BTBR animals to three-chambered apparatus, open field, object attention test and elevated open platform. Compared to C57BL/6J control mice, the BTBR mice displayed hyperactivity in most of the tests. In the three-chamber assessment, they exhibited deficits in sociability. In the open field, more grooming and thigmotaxis and less rearing behaviors were observed. They also showed impaired object-based attention. On the elevated open platform, the BTBR animals stayed more to the edges than in the center of the platform. To further examine the properties of this test, naïve C57BL/6J mice were randomly administrated with saline or an anxiogenic substance, caffeine. The caffeine group demonstrated a similar behavioral pattern as the BTBR mice. When the saline group was re-exposed to the same platform, the time they stayed in the center substantially increased, likely due to reduced anxiety by habituation. These results indicate that the BTBR were more anxious than control mice on the open platform. Taken together, the BTBR strain exhibit emotional and cognitive impairments in addition to autistic behaviors, suggesting that they can be a valid model for ASD with psychiatric comorbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-147
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume347
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 16 2018

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Elevated open platform
  • Object attention
  • Rearing
  • Social behavior

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