Sustained lentiviral-mediated overexpression of microRNA124a in the dentate gyrus exacerbates anxiety- and autism-like behaviors associated with neonatal isolation in rats

Amine Bahi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are highly disabling psychiatric disorders. Despite a strong genetic etiology, there are no efficient therapeutic interventions that target the core symptoms of ASD. Emerging evidence suggests that dysfunction of microRNA (miR) machinery may contribute to the underlying molecular mechanisms involved in ASD. Here, we report a stress model demonstrating that neonatal isolation-induced long-lasting hippocampal elevation of miR124a was associated with reduced expression of its target BDNF mRNA. In addition, we investigated the impact of lentiviral-mediated overexpression of miR124a into the dentate gyrus (DG) on social interaction, repetitive- and anxiety-like behaviors in the neonatal isolation (Iso) model of autism. Rats isolated from the dams on PND 1 to PND 11 were assessed for their social interaction, marble burying test (MBT) and repetitive self-grooming behaviors as adults following miR124a overexpression. Also, anxiety-like behavior and locomotion were evaluated in the elevated plus maze (EPM) and open-field (OF) tests. Results show that, consistent with previously published reports, Iso rats displayed decreased social interaction contacts but increased repetitive- and anxiety-like behaviors. Interestingly, across both autism- and anxiety-like behavioral assays, miR124a overexpression in the DG significantly exacerbated repetitive behaviors, social impairments and anxiety with no effect on locomotor activity. Our novel findings attribute neonatal isolation-inducible cognitive impairments to induction of miR124a and consequently suppressed BDNF mRNA, opening venues for intercepting these miR124a-mediated damages. They also highlight the importance of studying microRNAs in the context of ASD and identify miR124a as a novel potential therapeutic target for improving mood disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-308
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume311
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 15 2016

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Elevated plus maze
  • Marble burying test
  • MicroRNA124
  • Open field
  • Self-grooming
  • Social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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