Melatonin treatment of repetitive behavioral deficits in the Cntnap2 mouse model of autism spectrum disorder

Huei Bin Wang, Yu Tahara, Shu Hon Christopher Luk, Yoon Sik Kim, Olivia N. Hitchcock, Zoe A. MacDowell Kaswan, Yang In Kim, Gene D. Block, Cristina A. Ghiani, Dawn H. Loh, Christopher S. Colwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Nighttime light pollution is linked to metabolic and cognitive dysfunction. Many patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show disturbances in their sleep/wake cycle, and may be particularly vulnerable to the impact of circadian disruptors. In this study, we examined the impact of exposure to dim light at night (DLaN, 5 lx) in a model of ASD: the contactin associated protein-like 2 knock out (Cntnap2 KO) mice. DLaN was sufficient to disrupt locomotor activity rhythms, exacerbate the excessive grooming and diminish the social preference in Cntnap2 mutant mice. On a molecular level, DLaN altered the phase and amplitude of PER2:LUC rhythms in a tissue-specific manner in vitro. Daily treatment with melatonin reduced the excessive grooming of the mutant mice to wild-type levels and improved activity rhythms. Our findings suggest that common circadian disruptors such as light at night should be considered in the management of ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105064
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Circadian
  • Cntnap2
  • Light pollution
  • Melatonin
  • Mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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