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Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
Autism Research Database
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC)
 
Project Element Element Description

Project Title

Project Title

The impact of maternal inflammation during pregnancy on placental tryptophan metabolism, and the downstream consequences on fetal brain development

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Goeden, Nick

Description

Description

There is increasing evidence that maternal infection in humans is associated with placental dysfunction and an increased risk for autism in the offspring. In animal models, maternal infection causes behavioral and molecular changes in the offspring that are consistent with those seen in autism. However, the mechanisms by which infection, leading to maternal immune activation, alters fetal brain development are poorly understood. The goal of this project is to characterize the impact of maternal infection and immune activation during pregnancy on placental function, and the downstream consequences on fetal brain development. We recently discovered that the placenta, which is a major interface between mother and fetus, converts maternal tryptophan to serotonin during early pregnancy, thereby providing a source of serotonin for the developing fetal brain. Furthermore, dysregulation of serotonin levels in the developing fetal brain has been associated with the onset of autism spectrum disorders in the offspring. Disruption of this placental tryptophan metabolism during pregnancy may constitute a molecular mechanism by which maternal immune activation contributes to the later onset of disorders like autism in the offspring. Through the use of our novel ex vivo placental perfusion system, we will test the hypothesis that maternal immune activation directly alters placental tryptophan metabolism, ultimately affecting fetal brain development, and contributing to the onset of autism spectrum disorders.

Funder

Funder

Autism Science Foundation

Fiscal Year Funding

Fiscal Year Funding

25000

Current Award Period

Current Award Period

2014-2015

Strategic Plan Question

Strategic Plan Question

Question 3: What Caused This To Happen And Can This Be Prevented?

Strategic Plan Objective

Strategic Plan Objective

Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 3SF. Initiate studies on at least 10 environmental factors identified in the recommendations from the 2007 IOM report “Autism and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for Research” as potential causes of ASD by 2012. Estimated cost $56,000,000 over 2 years.

Project Link

Project Link

The impact of maternal inflammation during pregnancy on placental tryptophan metabolism, and the downstream consequences on fetal brain development (External web link)

Institution

Institution

University of Southern California

State/Country

State/Country

California

Project Number

Project Number

Federal or Private?

Federal or Private?

Private

Received ARRA Funding?

Received ARRA Funding?

No

History/Related Projects

History/Related Projects

The impact of maternal inflammation during pregnancy on placental tryptophan metabolism, and the downstream consequences on fetal brain development | 0 | 2015 |

 
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