Targeted Interneuron Depletion in the Dorsal Striatum Produces Autism-like Behavioral Abnormalities in Male but Not Female Mice

Maximiliano Rapanelli, Luciana Romina Frick, Meiyu Xu, Stephanie Mary Groman, Kantiya Jindachomthong, Nobuaki Tamamaki, Chiyoko Tanahira, Jane Rebecca Taylor, Christopher Pittenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Interneuronal pathology is implicated in many neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Tourette syndrome (TS). Interneurons of the striatum, including the parvalbumin-expressing fast-spiking interneurons (FSIs) and the large cholinergic interneurons (CINs), are affected in patients with TS and in preclinical models of both ASD and TS. Methods To test the causal importance of these neuronal abnormalities, we recapitulated them in vivo in developmentally normal mice using a combination transgenic–viral strategy for targeted toxin-mediated ablation. Results We found that conjoint ~50% depletion of FSIs and CINs in the dorsal striatum of male mice produces spontaneous stereotypy and marked deficits in social interaction. Strikingly, these behavioral effects are not seen in female mice; because ASD and TS have a marked male predominance, this observation reinforces the potential relevance of the finding to human disease. Neither of these effects is seen when only one or the other interneuronal population is depleted; ablation of both is required. Depletion of FSIs, but not of CINs, also produces anxiety-like behavior, as has been described previously. Behavioral pathology in male mice after conjoint FSI and CIN depletion is accompanied by increases in activity-dependent signaling in the dorsal striatum; these alterations were not observed after disruption of only one interneuron type or in doubly depleted female mice. Conclusions These data indicate that disruption of CIN and FSI interneurons in the dorsal striatum is sufficient to produce network and behavioral changes of potential relevance to ASD, in a sexually dimorphic manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-203
Number of pages10
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Society of Biological Psychiatry


  • Anxiety
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Interneuron
  • Social preference
  • Stereotypy
  • Striatum


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