Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and repetitive or restricted behaviors. ASD subjects exhibit complex genetic and clinical heterogeneity, thus hindering the discovery of pathophysiological mechanisms. Considering that several ASD-risk genes encode proteins involved in the regulation of synaptic plasticity, neuronal excitability, and neuronal connectivity, one hypothesis that has emerged is that ASD arises from a disruption of the neuronal network activity due to perturbation of the synaptic excitation and inhibition (E/I) balance. The development of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology and recent advances in neuronal differentiation techniques provide a unique opportunity to model complex neuronal connectivity and to test the E/I hypothesis of ASD in human-based models. Here, we aim to review the latest advances in studying the different cellular and molecular mechanisms contributing to E/I balance using iPSC-based in vitro models of ASD.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Excitation/inhibition balance; Induced pluripotent stem cell.