Systemic Treatment with the Enteric Bacterial Fermentation Product, Propionic Acid, Reduces Acoustic Startle Response Magnitude in Rats in a Dose-Dependent Fashion: Contribution to a Rodent Model of ASD
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by cognitive and sensorimotor deficits, among others. Hypo-sensitivity and hyper-sensitivity to different stimuli within the same sensory modality, a prominent symptom of ASD, can be assessed by acoustic startle response (ASR) and prepulse inhibition (PPI). Propionic acid (PPA) is a short-chain fatty acid and a by-product of the human gut microbiome. Rodents treated with PPA has been found to produce ASD-related behavioral abnormalities, gastrointestinal discomfort, and conditioned aversions. The present study examined ASR and PPI in adult male rats treated systemically (intraperitoneal injections) with two different doses of PPA. A single injection of PPA produced significant dose-dependent reductions in startle response magnitude relative to control rats. However, PPA-treated rats did not show significant sensorimotor gating abnormalities relative to controls, based on the PPI measures. These findings add to the growing body of evidence supporting the validity of the PPA rodent model of ASD.
KeywordsPropionic acid Startle response Sensorimotor gating Short-chain fatty acid Rat
This research was supported by Discovery grants and Research Tools and Instruments grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) awarded to M. Kavaliers and K.-P. Ossenkopp.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures were approved by the Western University Animal Care Committee and were in accordance with the guidelines of the Canadian Council of Animal Care.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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