The underlying mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are poorly understood.
Noriko Osumi, Kaichi Yoshizaki and colleagues at Tohoku University's
Graduate School of Medicine collaborated with Shigeru Wakana and Tamio
Furuse at RIKEN Bio-Resource Center, and Tucci Valter at Istituto
Italiano di Tecnologia, to conduct comprehensive behavioral analyses on
how paternal aging influences the behavior of offspring that inherit a
genetic risk (a mutation in Pax6 gene*).
‘Paternal aging influences the behavior of offspring that inherit a genetic risk. This could explain why there is a rapid rise in the ratio of children with neurodevelopmental disorders.’
In the experiments, in order to minimize the physical influence of
the father, the male mouse was isolated and in vitro fertilization was
used to impregnate the female. The researchers found that the offspring
of young fathers exhibited impaired vocal communication, while the
offspring of older fathers exhibited hyperlocomotion.
The results are significant for both animal researchers and the
public. For researchers working on animal models, it shows that the age
of male mice can influence the behavior of the offspring, so this should
be a consideration when they are used to mate.
For the public, the research shows that paternal aging may
exacerbate genetic risks - this could explain why there is a rapid rise
in the ratio of children with ASD or ADHD, due to men having children
later in life.