Western Undergraduate Psychology Journal

Article Title

The Effects of Propionic Acid on Locomotor, Repetitive and Anxiety-Related Behaviours in Female Adolescent Rats


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a family of neurological disorders classified by impaired communication and social behaviour as well as increased repetitive or perseverant behaviours. Propionic acid (PPA) is an endogenous short chain fatty acid shown to induce behavioural and physiological symptoms reminiscent of ASD in rats. The current study examined the effects of PPA on the behaviours of female adolescent rats, thereby expanding the validity of the PPA animal model of ASD. Female adolescent rats were placed in the hole-board apparatus and locomotor and thigmotaxis activity was recorded for 2 baseline days and 3 treatment days. On treatment days, rats received systemic injections of either Phosphate Buffered Saline (PBS, n = 6) or PPA (0.26 M, n = 6). Findings indicated that PPA and PBS injected rats did not significantly differ on measures of thigmotaxis, stereotypy or locomotor behaviour. This preliminary study suggests that systemic injections of PPA may not influence repetitive, locomotor and anxiety-related behaviours in female adolescent rats. Further research should be conducted to clarify the sex-specific effects of PPA on females.

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