Pyramidal neuron growth and increased hippocampal volume during labor and birth in autism

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Science Advances  23 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaav0394
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0394


We report that the apical dendrites of CA3 hippocampal pyramidal neurons are increased during labor and birth in the valproate model of autism but not in control animals. Using the iDISCO clearing method, we show that hippocampal, especially CA3 region, and neocortical volumes are increased and that the cerebral volume distribution shifts from normal to lognormal in valproate-treated animals. Maternal administration during labor and birth of the NKCC1 chloride transporter antagonist bumetanide, which reduces [Cl]i levels and attenuates the severity of autism, abolished the neocortical and hippocampal volume changes and reduced the whole-brain volume in valproate-treated animals. These results suggest that the abolition of the oxytocin-mediated excitatory-to-inhibitory shift of GABA actions during labor and birth contributes to the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders by stimulating growth during a vulnerable period.

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