BACKGROUND: Aggression is common in patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) along with the core symptoms of impairments in social communication and repetitive behavior. Risperidone, an atypical antipsychotic, is widely used to treat aggression in ASD. In order to understand the neurobiological underpinnings of these challenging behaviors, a thorough characterisation of behavioral endophenotypes in animal models is required., METHODS: We investigated aggression in mice containing the ASD-associated R451C (arginine to cysteine residue 451 substitution) mutation in neuroligin-3 (NL3). Furthermore, we sought to verify social interaction impairments and assess olfaction, anxiety, and repetitive and restrictive behavior in NL3(R451C) mutant mice., RESULTS: We show a pronounced elevation in aggressive behavior in NL3(R451C) mutant mice. Treatment with risperidone reduced this aggression to wild-type (WT) levels. Juvenile and adult social interactions were also investigated, and subtle differences in initiation of interaction were seen in juvenile NL3(R451C) mice. No genotype differences in olfactory discrimination or anxiety were observed indicating that aggression was not dependent on altered olfaction, stress response, or social preference. We also describe repetitive behavior in NL3(R451C) mice as assessed by a clinically relevant object exploration task., CONCLUSIONS: The presence of aberrant aggression and other behavioral phenotypes in NL3(R451C) mice consistent with clinical traits strengthen face validity of this model of ASD. Furthermore, we demonstrate predictive validity in this model through the reversal of the aggressive phenotype with risperidone. This is the first demonstration that risperidone can ameliorate aggression in an animal model of ASD and will inform mechanistic and therapeutic research into the neurobiology underlying abnormal behaviors in ASD.
E.L., B., L., L., L., K., L., C., J.C., B., & E.L., H.-Y. (2015). A neuroligin-3 mutation implicated in autism causes abnormal aggression and increases repetitive behavior in mice. Molecular Autism. E.L. Burrows, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Kenneth Myer Building, Melbourne Brain Centre, Cnr Genetics Lane and Royal Pde, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia: BioMed Central Ltd. Retrieved from http://www.molecularautism.com/