Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication, and patients often display co-occurring repetitive behaviors. Although the global prevalence of ASD has increased over time, the etiology and treatments for ASD are poorly understood. Recently, some researchers have suggested that stem cells have therapeutic potential for ASD. Thus, in the present study, we investigated the therapeutic effects of human adiposederived stem cells (hASCs), a kind of autologous mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from adipose tissue, on valproic acid (VPA)-induced autism model mice. Human ASCs were injected into the neonatal pups (P2 or P3) intraventricularly and then we evaluated major behavior symptoms of ASD. VPA-treated mice showed increased repetitive behaviors, decreased social interactions and increased anxiety but these autistic behaviors were ameliorated through transplantation of hASCs. In addition, hASCs transplantation restored the alteration of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) expression and p-AKT/AKT ratio in the brains of VPA-induced ASD model mice. The decreased level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin 10 (IL-10) by VPA were rescued in the brains of the hASC-injected VPA mice.
With these results, we experimentally found hASCs’ therapeutic effects on autistic phenotypes in a ASD model mice for the first time. This animal model system can be used to elucidate further mechanisms of
therapeutic effects of hASCs in ASD.