Towards a new rat model for autism spectrum disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder characterised by deficits in social behaviour and communication, and an increase in repetitive and stereotyped behaviour. Epidemiological studies have shown that prenatal exposure to valproate (an antiepileptic drug and mood stabilizer) leads to a 4 – 5 fold higher risk of developing ASD. Although animal studies have found a similar effect, these studies usually use only a single injection of valproate during pregnancy, which is very different from the clinical situation. Therefore, in this project we will investigate if daily, low doses of valproate ot pregnant female rats induces ASD-like characteristics in the offspring.

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