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Benefits of a ketogenic diet on repetitive motor behavior in mice

Brady, Molly; Beltramini, Anna; Vaughan, Gavin; Bechard, Allison R.

Date Published:





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March 26, 2022



Repetitive motor behaviors are repetitive and invariant movements with no apparent function, and are common in several neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, the neuropathology associated with the expression of these abnormal stereotypic movements is not well understood, and effective treatments are lacking. The ketogenic diet (KD) has been used for almost a century to treat intractable epilepsy and, more recently, disorders associated with inflexibility of behavioral routines. Here, we show a novel application for KD to reduce an abnormal repetitive circling behavior in a rodent model. We then explore potential mediation through the striatum, as dysregulation of cortico-basal ganglia circuitry has previously been implicated in repetitive motor behavior. In Experiments 1 and 2, adult FVB mice were assessed for levels of repetitive circling across a 3-week baseline period. Mice were then switched to KD and repetitive circling was assessed for an additional 3 weeks. In Experiment 1, time on KD was associated with reduced repetitive behavior. In Experiment 2, we replicated these benefits of KD and assessed dendritic spine density in the striatum as one potential mechanism for reducing repetitive behavior, which yielded no differences. In Experiment 3, adult female circling mice were given a single administration of a dopamine D2 receptor antagonist (L-741,646) that was associated with reduced repetitive behavior over time. Future research will explore the relationship between KD and dopamine within basal ganglia nuclei that may be influencing the benefits of KD on repetitive behavior.

Automatic Tags

Autism spectrum disorder; Dopamine; Animal models; Stereotypy; Striatum

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