Altered Intestinal Morphology and Microbiota Composition in the Autism Spectrum Disorders Associated SHANK3 Mouse Model.
Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Apr 30 ;20(9). Epub 2019 Apr 30. PMID: 31052177
Ann Katrin Sauer
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, and repetitive behaviors. In addition, co-morbidities such as gastro-intestinal problems have frequently been reported. Mutations and deletion of proteins of the SH3 and multiple ankyrin repeat domains () gene-family were identified in patients with ASD, andknock-out mouse models display autism-like phenotypes. SHANK3 proteins are not only expressed in the central nervous system (CNS). Here, we show expression in gastrointestinal (GI) epithelium and report a significantly different GI morphology inknock-out (KO) mice. Further, we detected a significantly altered microbiota composition measured in feces ofKO mice that may contribute to inflammatory responses affecting brain development. In line with this, we found higherlipopolysaccharide levels in liver samples ofKO mice, and detected an increase in Interleukin-6 and activated astrocytes inKO mice. We conclude that apart from its well-known role in the CNS, SHANK3 plays a specific role in the GI tract that may contribute to the ASD phenotype by extracerebral mechanisms.