Role of Developmental Neurotoxicology in Autism

EPA Grant Number: R824758
Title: Role of Developmental Neurotoxicology in Autism
Investigators: Rodier, Patricia M.
Institution: University of Rochester
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 1995 through September 30, 1998
Project Amount: $412,372
RFA: Human Health Risk Assessment (1995) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health Effects , Human Health , Human Health Risk Assessment , Health


The purpose of this project is to study the neuroanatomy of an animal model of a developmental injury related to autism, one of the most common birth defects. Rats exposed to valproic acid around the time of neural tube closure have already been shown to have changes in the cranial nerve motor nuclei which match those reported in human cases of the disorder. Rats exposed to the same dose and agent will be examined histologically for: 1) changes in the cerebellum like those reported in human cases of autism, and; 2) changes in the limbic system like those reported in human cases. The goal is to determine how well the injury of the animal model matches that of human cases. Using Phaseolus vulgaris leukoagglutinin (PHA-L) injections and immunocytochemical staining for anterograde tract tracing, the rat model will be studied for: 1) the projection pattern of axons from the damaged motor nucleil; 2) the projection patterns of neurons in nearby sensory nuclei of the brain stem; and 3) the projection patterns of somatosensory relay neurons from the medulla to the thalamus. The goal of these studies is to determine whether early loss of motor neurons affects the development of connections formed subsequent to the initial injury. Development of an animal model of autism will allow testing of toxic agents for the potential to induce this previously unrecognized form of neural tube defect.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 15 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 8 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Health, Scientific Discipline, Toxicology, Health Risk Assessment, Physiology, Risk Assessments, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology/Genetics, birth defects, cranial nerve motor nuclei, developmental neurotoxicology, neural tube defects, neurotoxic, thalamus, developmental effects, animal model, somatosensory relay neurons, medulla, human exposure, autism, phaseolus vulgaris leukoagglutinin, immunocytochemical, human health risk

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • 1997
  • Final Report