Kathryn K. Chadman* and Sara R. Guariglia
Mouse models of neuropsychiatric disorders are validated according to three different criteria: face validity, construct validity and predictive validity. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are diagnosed behaviorally, therefore, mouse models of ASDs rely primarily on face validity. The three diagnostic criteria for ASDs are impairments in social interaction, communication and repetitive behavior, and/or restricted interests. The BTBR T+tf/J (BTBR) mice are an inbred strain used as model of ASDs. All three types of behavioral criteria have been evaluated in the BTBR mice. An advantage of using an inbred strain, such as BTBR is that, the mice are considered genetically identical and offer good controls for experimentation. The BTBR mice have demonstrated face validity for the three core behaviors that define ASDs. Low levels of social behavior, altered communication and spontaneous grooming comprise the behavioral phenotype of the BTBR mice. For construct validity, the BTBR mice have some physiological characteristics similar to humans with ASDs. Several drug and behavioral treatments for ASDs have been examined in the BTBR mice; however this area of research is still being developed. This review will offer a description of the behavior and physiology of the BTBR mice as a model for ASDs.