Viral infection in utero associated with behavioral abnormalities in the offspring

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Male and female rats whose mothers had a simulated virulent infection during pregnancy behave abnormally, according to behavioral alterations in autism or schizophrenia, a research conducted by the University of Saskatchewan ( USask).

The USask research, published in the journal eNeuro, found that the young adult rats, exposed to a simulated viral infection in utero, showed abnormal behavior, suggesting specific brain changes while they were in the uterus.

The research of physiology professor John Howland at the College of Medicine suggests that inflammation during pregnancy alters the brain development of an unborn progeny and may predispose them to psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia.

Howland's findings are consistent with studies of the man that link inflammation in uterus with increased rates of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and autism.

Previous studies have found that children whose mothers have been exposed to influenza virus during the first half of their pregnancy may face a higher risk of developing schizophrenia in later life.

Schizophrenia, a serious psychiatric illness, affects about 1% of the population. The risk of developing the disease as an adult can reach 3% among those whose mothers have contracted the flu in the first half of pregnancy.

"The members of my laboratory conducted a series of studies related to the effects of inflammation during pregnancy on the behavior of the offspring using a rat model. Our research, and that of other laboratories around the world, consistently reveals effects long-term uterus exposure to inflammation in the offspring, "Howland said.

Extensive tests on rats exposed to a simulated in utero virus showed that young adult offspring had reduced working memories and altered fear responses, suggesting that aspects of their cognition were altered.

They were also less sociable with other rats than those whose mothers had not been treated during pregnancy.

Howland's team investigated the impact of maternal immune activation for years and found similar effects in both male and female offspring exposed to inflammation while in utero. The research was conducted historically especially in males.

Brittney Lins, a graduate student and a member of the USask research team, said:

"Our research has shown that experiences during development affect the brain, and we have seen that inflammation during pregnancy influenced social behavior and memory in the offspring of adult rats."

. (tagToTranslate) Pregnancy (t) Autism (t) Brain (t) Influence (t) In Uterus (t) Inflammation (t) Physiology (t) Research (t) Schizophrenia (t) Virus (t) Womb

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