Article

Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 25-33

First online:

Prenatal Viral Infection Leads to Pyramidal Cell Atrophy and Macrocephaly in Adulthood: Implications for Genesis of Autism and Schizophrenia

  • S. Hossein FatemiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience Research. Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota
  • , Julie EarleAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience Research. Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota
  • , Reena KanodiaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience Research. Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota
  • , David KistAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience Research. Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota
  • , Effat S. EmamianAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience Research. Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota
  • , Paul H. PattersonAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, California Institute of Technology
  • , Limin ShiAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, California Institute of Technology
  • , Robert SidwellAffiliated withInstitute for Antiviral Research, Utah State University

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Abstract

We investigated the role of maternal exposure to human influenza virus (H1N1) in C57BL/6 mice on Day 9 of pregnancy on pyramidal and nonpyramidal cell density, pyramidal nuclear area, and overall brain size in Day 0 neonates and 14-week-old progeny and compared them to sham-infected cohorts. Pyramidal cell density increased significantly (p < 0.0038) by 170% in Day 0 infected mice vs. controls. Nonpyramidal cell density decreased by 33% in Day 0 infected progeny vs. controls albeit, nonsignificantly. Pyramidal cell nuclear size decreased significantly (p < 0.0465) by 29% in exposed newborn mice vs. controls. Fourteen-week-old exposed mice continued to show significant increases in both pyramidal and nonpyramidal cell density values vs. controls respectively (p < 0.0085 E1 (exposed group 1), p < 0.0279 E2 (exposed group 2) pyramidal cell density; p < 0.0092 E1, p < 0.0252 E2, nonpyramidal cell density). By the same token, pyramidal cell nuclear size exhibited 37–43% reductions when compared to control values; these were statistically significant vs. controls (p < 0.04 E1, p < 0.0259 E2). Brain and ventricular area measurements in adult exposed mice also showed significant increases and decreases respectively vs. controls. Ventricular brain ratios exhibited 38–50% decreases in exposed mice vs. controls. While the rate of pyramidal cell proliferation per unit area decreased from birth to adulthood in both control and exposed groups, nonpyramidal cell growth rate increased only in the exposed adult mice. These data show for the first time that prenatal exposure of pregnant mice on Day 9 of pregnancy to a sublethal intranasal administration of influenza virus has both short-term and long-lasting deleterious effects on developing brain structure in the progeny as evident by altered pyramidal and nonpyramidal cell density values; atrophy of pyramidal cells despite normal cell proliferation rate and final enlargement of brain. Moreover, abnormal corticogenesis is associated with development of abnormal behavior in the exposed adult mice.

human influenza virus prenatal exposure pyramidal cell atrophy macrocephaly autism schizophrenia