A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Winter, 2019 | Number 1, Volume 33

In animal model of ASD, the brain does not pause its growth during delivery

Brain growth may not pause in a normal way around the time of delivery in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), a new study suggests. 

Robin Cloarec and colleagues used an imaging technique called iDISCO to study a rat model of ASD (in which the researchers created “ASD” by exposing the unborn rats to valproate). This imaging technique can create 3-D images of an unborn rat’s brain. 

The researchers found that the brains of control rats stopped growing in size during the period just prior to, during,  and immediately after birth. They believe that this helps the brain cope with the trauma of birth. In the ASD rats, however, the brain was larger after birth (particularly in the hippocampal region), indicating that its growth had not stopped during this period. 

In addition, the researchers examined the effects of giving the drug bumetanide to pregnant rats before delivery. This drug, which can ameliorate some symptoms of autism, reduces the concentration of chloride in neurons. Administering bumetanide prevented abnormal brain growth in the ASD rats, which the researchers say suggests that “high levels of chloride during labor and birth are pathogenic.”


“Pyramidal neuron growth and increased hippocampal volume during labor and birth in autism,” R. Cloarec, B. Riffault, A. Dufour, H. Rabiei, L.-A. Gouty-Colomer, C. Dumon, D. Guimond, P. Bonifazi, S. Eftekhari, N. Lozovaya,

D. C. Ferrari, and Y. Ben-Ari, Science Advances, Vol. 5, January 23, 2019 (online). Address: Yehezkel Ben-Ari, Neurochlore, Ben-Ari Institute of Neuroarcheology (IBEN), Zone Luminy Biotech Entreprises, 13288 Cedex 09, Marseille, France, [email protected].