Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

Novel animal models of impaired social behavior and anxiety: A role for MeCP2  

Environmental factors contribute to the risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and a greater understanding of these factors is needed. Adverse prenatal conditions can affect the development of the infant brain, increasing the risk for neurobehavioral disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or anxiety. In total, small-for-gestational age (SGA) or large-for-gestational age (LGA) may affect over half a million American infants every year, and epidemiological evidence indicates that both SGA and LGA infants are at an increased risk for ASD. Researchers have developed two mouse models based on an adverse in utero environment that result in SGA or LGA offspring by feeding pregnant dams a low protein diet or high fat diet, respectively. Expression levels of the Rett Syndrome gene, MeCP2, are significantly different in both SGA and LGA offspring, identifying MeCP2 expression as a potential important epigenetic mechanism responsive to adverse in utero conditions. In this study, researchers will use these animal models to examine brain and behavior changes in response to adverse in utero conditions. Specifically, researchers will examine: 1) social and anxiety-related behaviors in SGA and LGA offspring and 2) genome-wide gene expression changes in SGA and LGA mice. The development of these models will allow for future studies of neurobiological mechanisms that link adverse in utero environment and altered social and emotional behaviors with an eventual goal of the development of targeted therapeutics and interventions. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $240,000.00
Current Award Period 2010-2012
Project Number 1R21MH091372-01
Principal Investigator Reyes, Teresa
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 3: What Caused This To Happen And Can This Be Prevented? (Causes)
Subcategory Environment
Strategic Plan Objective Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 3LC. Determine the effect of at least five environmental factors on the risk for subtypes of ASD in the pre- and early postnatal period of development by 2015. IACC Recommended Budget: $25,100,000 over 7 years.
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution University of Pennsylvania
State/Country Pennsylvania
Web Link 1 Novel animal models of impaired social behavior and anxiety: A role for MeCP2 (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
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