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Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
Autism Research Database
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC)
 
Project Element Element Description

Project Title

Project Title

Genetic and environmental interactions leading to autism-like symptoms

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Pfaff, Donald

Description

Description

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is widely regarded to be one of the most severe of the childhood psychiatric conditions. Until now, the root causes of this condition have been viewed in a dichotomous ‘either/or’ fashion: some researchers saying “autism is a genetic disease”, others relying purely on a panoply of environmental causes. Remarkably, the interaction between genetic and environmental factors have not been widely investigated although synergistic effects have been found for other neurodevelopmental disorders such as depression and may bring important insights into the prevention of developing autism spectrum disorder. This project will use an animal model (mice) to investigate the interaction of being genetically vulnerable to develop this disease with a known environmental predisposing condition, prenatal stress on developing autism-like phenotypes. Additionally, we will investigate whether these factors affect the sexes differentially. The latter may elucidate the male preponderance, a well known, but understudied aspect of autism spectrum disorder. Knowledge about these mechanisms may contribute to the discovery of some important aspects of the etiology of autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, understanding the sex-specific gene-environment interaction affecting the development of autism-like behaviors may likely offer new avenues of enquiry into autism spectrum disorder and may provide unique insights into the neurobiology of the condition. Half of the control mice and half of the mice that are genetically vulnerable to develop the condition will receive prenatal stress. When the mice reach puberty they will be assayed for behaviors typical of autism spectrum disorder. Also certain areas of the mice’s brain will be assayed to determine the relationship between typical behaviors and readability of the genetic information. Studying the readability of the genetic information (epigenetics) can elucidate the underlying mechanisms of how genetic and environmental factors and their interaction effect causes typical of autism-like behaviors to arise.

Funder

Funder

Simons Foundation

Fiscal Year Funding

Fiscal Year Funding

60000

Current Award Period

Current Award Period

2012-2013

Strategic Plan Question

Strategic Plan Question

Question 3: What Caused This To Happen And Can This Be Prevented?

Strategic Plan Objective

Strategic Plan Objective

Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 3SK. Support two studies and a workshop that facilitate the development of vertebrate and invertebrate model systems for the exploration of environmental risks and their interaction with gender and genetic susceptibilities for ASD by 2012. IACC Recommended Budget: $1,535,000 over 3 years.

Project Link

Project Link

Genetic and environmental interactions leading to autism-like symptoms (External web link)

Institution

Institution

The Rockefeller University

State/Country

State/Country

New York

Project Number

Project Number

230933

Federal or Private?

Federal or Private?

Private

Received ARRA Funding?

Received ARRA Funding?

No

History/Related Projects

History/Related Projects

Genetic and environmental interactions leading to autism-like symptoms | 0 | 2013 | 230933

 
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