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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 mechanism of the maternal infection risk factor for autism

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Patterson, Paul

Description

Description

Although there is a strong genetic contribution to autism, it is clear that environmental factors such as maternal infection can also increase the risk for this disorder. In a mouse model of this risk factor, we find that offspring born to immune-activated pregnant mice display the core behavioral symptoms of autism: stereotyped and repetitive behaviors, and deficits in social interaction and communication. These offspring also display neuropathology characteristic of autism. Therefore, illuminating the pathway by which maternal immune activation (MIA) causes autism-like symptoms is likely to enhance the understanding of autism pathophysiology. A recent study of over 10,000 ASD cases found an association between first trimester viral infection in pregnant women and ASD in the offspring. In an animal model of this risk factor, the research team found that the offspring of flu-infected pregnant mice display mouse versions of the core behavioral symptoms of autism. These offspring also display a neuropathology commonly found in autism. How does maternal infection alter fetal brain development to cause these abnormalities? Prior research in this laboratory has found that activation of the mother's immune system increases the level of a protein, termed IL-6, which is important for fighting infection. Moreover, this elevation of IL-6 is critical for the development of autism-like symptoms in the offspring. The investigators next showed that IL-6 alters the function of the placenta. They now wish to discover where IL-6 is acting in the fetal brain and to determine the relative importance of IL-6 action in the fetal brain versus the placenta. That is, where does IL-6 exert its most important actions that lead to autism-like behavior and pathology in the offspring? Delineation of the cellular pathway of IL-6 action will help in understanding the steps that lead to development of the autistic brain.

Funder

Funder

Autism Speaks

Fiscal Year Funding

Fiscal Year Funding

0

Current Award Period

Current Award Period

2011-2014

Strategic Plan Question

Strategic Plan Question

Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening?

Strategic Plan Objective

Strategic Plan Objective

Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 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.)

Project Link

Project Link

The mechanism of the maternal infection risk factor for autism (External web link)

Institution

Institution

California Institute of Technology

State/Country

State/Country

California

Project Number

Project Number

7670

Federal or Private?

Federal or Private?

Private

Received ARRA Funding?

Received ARRA Funding?

No

History/Related Projects

History/Related Projects

The mechanism of the maternal infection risk factor for autism | 150000 | 2012 | 7670
The mechanism of the maternal infection risk factor for autism | 0 | 2015 | 7670
The mechanism of the maternal infection risk factor for autism | 150000 | 2014 | 7670
The mechanism of the maternal infection risk factor for autism | 150000 | 2013 | 7670

 
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