OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Differences in the expression of restricted repetitive behaviors in female BTBR T + tf/J mice


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by the expression of restricted repetitive behaviors (RRBs) and impairments in social recognition and communication. Epidemiological studies demonstrate males are four times more likely than females to be affected. Although this is the case, more recent studies suggest females may be underrepresented in these numbers due to our standard measures of RRBs and social behaviors. Furthermore, many studies examining mouse models of ASD exclude females due to the gender disparity in diagnoses. The present study examined how female BTBR T+ Itpr3tf /J (BTBR) compare to control C57BL/6J mice on tests measuring RRBs (probabilistic reversal learning, repetitive grooming, spontaneous alternation, and marble burying) and social behaviors (three chambered social approach task). Utilizing a spatial reversal learning test with 80/20 probabilistic feedback in which ASD individuals have exhibited deficits, we find that female BTBRs do not show the same impairment repeatedly reported in male BTBRs. Interestingly, control C57BL/6J mice required more trials to reach criterion, in opposition to our predictions. Female BTBR mice expressed comparable rates of repetitive grooming, marble burying and spontaneous alternation compared to female C57BL/6J mice. Instead, similar to previous findings in male BTBR mice, an attenuation of social approach was found in female BTBR mice. Together these findings demonstrate how female BTBR mice do not display the RRB behavioral profile expressed by male BTBR mice. Testing of repetitive behaviors in ASD needs to better reflect the gender differences in how RRBs manifests in females compared to their extensively researched male counterparts.

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