Vascular contributions to 16p11.2 deletion autism syndrome modeled in mice

Nat Neurosci. 2020 Sep;23(9):1090-1101. doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-0663-1. Epub 2020 Jul 13.


While the neuronal underpinnings of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are being unraveled, vascular contributions to ASD remain elusive. Here, we investigated postnatal cerebrovascular development in the 16p11.2df/+ mouse model of 16p11.2 deletion ASD syndrome. We discover that 16p11.2 hemizygosity leads to male-specific, endothelium-dependent structural and functional neurovascular abnormalities. In 16p11.2df/+ mice, endothelial dysfunction results in impaired cerebral angiogenesis at postnatal day 14, and in altered neurovascular coupling and cerebrovascular reactivity at postnatal day 50. Moreover, we show that there is defective angiogenesis in primary 16p11.2df/+ mouse brain endothelial cells and in induced-pluripotent-stem-cell-derived endothelial cells from human carriers of the 16p11.2 deletion. Finally, we find that mice with an endothelium-specific 16p11.2 deletion (16p11.2ΔEC) partially recapitulate some of the behavioral changes seen in 16p11.2 syndrome, specifically hyperactivity and impaired motor learning. By showing that developmental 16p11.2 haploinsufficiency from endothelial cells results in neurovascular and behavioral changes in adults, our results point to a potential role for endothelial impairment in ASD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 16
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology*
  • Female
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / genetics
  • Neurovascular Coupling / physiology*

Supplementary concepts

  • 16p11.2 Deletion Syndrome

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