Animal models of intellectual disability: towards a translational approach


Intellectual disability is a prevalent form of cognitive impairment, affecting 2–3% of the general population. It is a daunting societal problem characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills. Intellectual disability is a clinically important disorder for which the etiology and pathogenesis are still poorly understood. Moreover, although tremendous progress has been made, pharmacological intervention is still currently non-existent and therapeutic strategies remain limited. Studies in humans have a very limited capacity to explain basic mechanisms of this condition. In this sense, animal models have been invaluable in intellectual disability investigation. Certainly, a great deal of the knowledge that has improved our understanding of several pathologies has derived from appropriate animal models. Moreover, to improve human health, scientific discoveries must be translated into practical applications. Translational research specifically aims at taking basic scientific discoveries and best practices to benefit the lives of people in our communities. In this context, the challenge that basic science research needs to meet is to make use of a comparative approach to benefit the most from what each animal model can tell us. Intellectual disability results from many different genetic and environmental insults. Taken together, the present review will describe several animal models of potential intellectual disability risk factors

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