Objectives: The time course and potential reversibility of the cognitive deficits associated with the PPA rodent model of ASD was assessed using adult male Long-Evans rats.
Methods: ICV infusions of either PPA (0.26 M, pH 7.4, 4 µl/infusion) or phosphate buffered saline (PBS, 0.1 M) vehicle were given twice a day for 7 consecutive days. Rats were then tested in the Morris water maze for acquisition on day 7 of infusions and then again one week later for reversal, and perseveratory behaviours were assessed. In a second experiment, rats were subjected to the same infusion schedule, but were nonspatially pretrained in the maze prior to drug treatment. Brain tissue was analyzed for lipid profiles and innate neuroinflammatory changes.
Results: Compared to controls, both pretrained and non-pretrained PPA-treated rats showed longer search latencies to find the hidden platform, indicating impairment during spatial acquisition of the maze. However, after a one-week recovery period these animals were able to reverse the maze at the same level as controls. Examination of PPA treated brain tissue revealed qualitative altered lipid profiles and innate neuroinflammatory changes, which partially returned to baseline after this one-week recovery period.
Conclusions: Prolonged exposure of PPA produced cognitive impairments, altered brain lipids and innate neuroinflammatory changes. However, some behavioural and brain changes from ICV infusions of PPA may be reversible upon discontinuation of exposure, providing further validity of this novel rodent model of ASD.