Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

A non-human primate autism model based on maternal infection  

Viral infections activate the immune system, causing inflammation and other defensive responses throughout the body. The immune activation is critical for the mother to fight infection, but mouse studies have shown that this also results in immune activation in the placenta and the fetus. It is possible that these immune responses may remain active in the offspring, which could be linked to the abnormally high frequency of inflammation in the brains of people with autism. To study this phenomenon, Patterson and his team induced an immune response to viral infection in pregnant mice and found that the offspring have several characteristics of autism. They also have fewer Purkinje neurons in the cerebellum, mimicking a pathology seen in the brains of people with autism. Patterson and Amaral plan to extend this model to rhesus monkeys. The social behaviors of rhesus monkeys have been thoroughly cataloged, allowing researchers to detect subtle differences in the ways the animals interact with each other and with their mothers. The researchers plan to perform post-mortem autopsies to look for the neurological causes of the observed behaviors, in particular inflammation and neuronal damage. These studies could have important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Project Status


Funder Simons Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $446,873.32
Project Number SFARI-07-30
Principal Investigator Patterson, Paul
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Strategic Plan Objective Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 2SA. Support at least four research projects to identify mechanisms of metabolic and/or immune system interactions with the central nervous system that may underlie the development of ASD during prenatal-postnatal life by 2010. IACC Funding Budget: $9,800,000 over 4 years.
Federal or Private? Private
Institution California Institute of Technology
State/Country California
Web Link 1 A non-human primate autism model based on maternal infection (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
New! History/Related Projects A non-human primate autism model based on maternal infection | $335,155.03 | 2010 | SFARI-07-30
A non-human primate autism model based on maternal infection | $446,873.32 | 2008 | Project number unavailable