To better study the role of genetics in autism, mouse models have been developed which mimic the genetics of specific autism spectrum and related disorders. These models have facilitated research on the role genetic susceptibility factors in the pathogenesis of autism in the absence of environmental factors. Inbred mouse strains have been similarly studied to assess the role of environmental agents on neurodevelopment, typically without the complications of genetic heterogeneity of the human population. What has not been as actively pursued, however, is the methodical study of the interaction between these factors (e.g., gene and environmental interactions in neurodevelopment). This review suggests that a genetic predisposition paired with exposure to environmental toxicants plays an important role in the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, and may contribute to the largely unexplained rise in the number of children diagnosed with autism worldwide. Specifically, descriptions of the major mouse models of autism and toxic mechanisms of prevalent environmental chemicals are provided followed by a discussion of current and future research strategies to evaluate the role of gene and environment interactions in neurodevelopmental disorders.
- Environmental pollutants
- Mouse model
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience