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    Auditory dysfunction is a common feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ranges from deafness to hypersensitivity. The auditory brainstem response (ABR) permits study of the amplitude and latency of synchronized electrical activity along the ascending auditory pathway in response to clicks and pure tone stimuli. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that subjects with ASD have ABR abnormalities. In utero exposure to the antiepileptic drug valproic acid (VPA) is associated with human cases of ASD and is used as an animal model of ASD. Previous studies have shown that VPA-exposed animals have significantly fewer neurons in the auditory brainstem and thalamus, reduced ascending projections to the auditory midbrain and thalamus and increased neuronal activation in response to pure tone stimuli. Accordingly, we hypothesized that VPA-exposed animals would have abnormal ABRs throughout their lifespans. We approached this hypothesis in two cohorts. First, we examined ABRs from both ears on postnatal day 22 (P22). Then, we examined monaural ABRs in animals at P28, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300 and 360. Our results suggest that at P22, VPA-exposed animals have elevated thresholds and increased peak latencies. However, by P60 these differences largely normalize with differences appearing only near hearing threshold. Additionally, our analysis revealed that maturation of ABR waves occurred at different trajectories in control and VPA-exposed animals. These results, together with our previous work, suggest that VPA exposure not only impacts total neuron number and connectivity, but also auditory evoked responses. Finally, our longitudinal analysis suggests that delayed maturation of auditory brainstem circuits may impact ABRs throughout the lifespan of the animal. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    Arjun S Malhotra, Randy Kulesza. Abnormal auditory brainstem responses in an animal model of autism spectrum disorder. Hearing research. 2023 Sep 01;436:108816

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    PMID: 37285705

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