Immune Effects on Infant Development

Studies are constantly linking maternal immune reactions with the future development of their infants.  This is a hot area of research for autism.  In a study by University of California – Davis researchers, a potential mechanism for the interaction may have been discovered.

Researchers were stimulating the immune systems of pregnant mice at a specific time in the fetus’s development.  When they examined the resulting mouse babies after birth they discovered a wide variety of changes.  In mice who did not receive the inflammatory signal, they were all developing about the same pace as would be expected.  In those who received the inflammatory signal, their range of development was varied much more.

When they looked at possible reasons for the varying reactions, the levels of interleukin 6 in the mom’s during pregnancy seemed to be the biggest  correlating factor.  This marker of inflammatory response intensity seemed to indicate which mouse baby would be more affected by the test condition.

As we move into 2020 and Beyond, our hope of uncovering therapies for autism will require understanding how our immune systems affect pregnant mom’s and their developing babies.


Original Article:

Myka L. Estes, Kathryn Prendergast, Jeremy A. MacMahon, Scott Cameron, John Paul Aboubechara, Kathleen Farrelly, Gabrielle L. Sell, Lori Haapanen, Joseph D. Schauer, Aurora Horta, Ida C. Shaffer, Catherine T. Le, Greg N. Kincheloe, Danielle John Tan, Deborah van der List, Melissa D. Bauman, Cameron S. Carter, Judy Van de Water, A. Kimberley McAllister. Baseline immunoreactivity before pregnancy and poly(I:C) dose combine to dictate susceptibility and resilience of offspring to maternal immune activation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.04.061


Thanks to Science Daily:

University of California – Davis. “New insight on maternal infections and neurodevelopmental disorders: Mouse study predicts why some mothers may be susceptible.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200504165703.htm>.






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