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posted on 28.02.2018, 04:20 by Tao Tan, Wei Wang, Haitao Xu, Zhilin Huang, Yu Tian Wang, Zhifang Dong

Patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) display abnormalities in neuronal development, synaptic function and neural circuits. The imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory (E/I) synaptic transmission has been proposed to cause the main behavioral characteristics of ASD. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can directly or indirectly induce excitability and synaptic plasticity changes in the brain noninvasively. However, whether rTMS can ameliorate autistic-like behaviors in animal model via regulating the balance of E/I synaptic transmission is unknown. By using our recent reported animal model with autistic-like behaviors induced by neonatal isolation (postnatal days 1–9), we found that low-frequency rTMS (LF-rTMS, 1 Hz) treatment for 2 weeks effectively alleviated the acquired autistic-like symptoms, as reflected by an increase in social interaction and decrease in self-grooming, anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors in young adult rats compared to those in untreated animals. Furthermore, the amelioration in autistic-like behavior was accompanied by a restoration of the balance between E/I activity, especially at the level of synaptic transmission and receptors in synaptosomes. These findings indicated that LF-rTMS may alleviate the symptoms of ASD-like behaviors caused by neonatal isolation through regulating the synaptic GABA transmission, suggesting that LF-rTMS may be a potential therapeutic technique to treat ASD.