The role of Hipk2-p53 pathways in arsenic-induced autistic behaviors: A translational study from rats to humans.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Previous studies have associated the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with increased exposures to metals and metalloids such as arsenic. In this study, we used an animal-to-human translational strategy to identify key molecular changes that potentially mediated the effects of arsenic exposures on ASD development. In a previously established rat model, we have induced autistic behaviors in rat pups with gestational arsenic exposures (10 and 45 μg/L As2 O3 in drinking water). Neuronal apoptosis and the associated epigenetic dysregulations in frontal cortex were assayed to screen potential mediating pathways, which were subsequently validated with qPCR, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry analyses. Furthermore, the identified pathway, along with serum levels of 26 elements including arsenic, were characterized in a case-control study with 21 ASD children and 21 age-matched healthy controls. In animals, we found that arsenic exposures caused difficulties of social interaction and increased stereotypic behaviors in a dose-dependent manner, accompanied by increased neuronal apoptosis and upregulation of Hipk2-p53 pathway in the frontal cortex. In humans, we found that serum levels of Hipk2 and p53 were 24.7 (95%CI: 8.5 to 43.4) % and 23.7 (95%CI: 10.5 to 38.5) % higher in ASD children than in healthy controls. ASD children had significantly higher serum levels of 15 elements, among which arsenic, silicon, strontium, and vanadium were positively associated with both Hipk2 and p53. Results from both the rat arsenic exposure and human case-control studies suggest a likely role of Hipk2-p53 pathway in ASD development induced by exposures to environmental pollutants such as arsenic.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Zhou, H; Lin, Y; Zhao, W; Teng, Y; Cui, Y; Wang, T; Li, C; Jiang, Y-H; Zhang, JJ; Wang, Y

Published Date

  • December 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 267 /

Start / End Page

  • 115568 -

PubMed ID

  • 33254717

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-6424

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0269-7491

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115568


  • eng