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

An ex-vivo placental perfusion system to study materno-fetal biology  

Maternal-fetal interactions during the prenatal period are essential for brain development in the child. Maternal illness which increases the risk for neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD), may impair these interactions. This grant will focus on developing and validating a new technology to examine the effects of alterations in materno-fetal interactions on fetal brain development. The researchers propose that the impact of maternal immune challenges and stressors on fetal brain development is a direct consequence of altered materno-fetal interactions taking place in the placenta. Circulating maternal tryptophan metabolism in the placenta is known to be required for protecting the fetus from maternal immunity. Preliminary results suggest that, during an early critical period of gestation, an alternative tryptophan pathway also provides serotonin to the fetal circulation and therefore may be critical for normal fetal brain wiring. A new model system will be used in mice to test the possibility that maternal immune challenges directly impact multiple placental metabolic pathways for tryptophan, disrupting fetal supply of serotonin and ultimately brain wiring in utero. This research provides unique opportunities to determine how maternally derived neurotransmitters, cytokines, hormones and drugs impact the development of brain circuits that have been implicated in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $243,000.00
Current Award Period 2009-2011
Project Number 5R21HD065287-02
Principal Investigator Bonnin, Alexandre
Received ARRA Funding? Yes
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Immune/Metabolic Pathways
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 fever, metabolic and/or immune system interactions with the central nervous system that may influence ASD during prenatal-postnatal life by 2010. IACC Recommended Budget: $9,800,000 over 4 years. (Fever studies to be started by 2012.)
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution University of Southern California
State/Country California
Web Link 1 An ex-vivo placental perfusion system to study materno-fetal biology (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects N/A