Drawing of a tadpole

Faculty Research: Tadpole Model of Autism

In this paper a team of neuroscientists from Brown University and Bard College show that Xenopus tadpoles can be used as an experimental model to study molecular mechanisms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We used a chemical called valproic acid that is known to increase the incidence of ASD in humans, and studied its action on tadpoles. It turned out that tadpoles exposed to valproic acid developed abnormalities that are surprisingly reminiscent of that in ASD-affected humans. It suggests that tadpoles can indeed be used to study the original molecular reasons that make “autistic brains” develop differently than “normal brains”.

Citation: James EJ, Gu J, Ramirez-Vizcarrondo CM, Hasan M, Truszkowski TL, Tan Y, Oupravanh PM, Khakhalin AS, Aizenman CD. (2015). Valproate-Induced Neurodevelopmental Deficits in Xenopus laevis Tadpoles. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(7), 3218-3229.

Free text at PubMed Central.

Press-release from Brown University.