Monday, 27 March 2023 10:54

Is autism caused by an infection during pregnancy? Featured

If the mother suffers an infection during pregnancy, this could possibly promote autism in the child.

A research team led by Dr. Simone Mayer of the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research and the University of Tübingen have deciphered a molecular mechanism of the link between maternal infection and possible autism using brain organoids. They exposed the organoids to a specific concentration of interleukin-6, a messenger substance that is secreted more frequently by the mother during an infection.

As a result, the scientists observed altered tissue anatomy and changes in gene activity compared to untreated brain organoids.

However, it is estimated that the risk for autism spectrum disorder may be only slightly increased overall.

Original publication:
Sarieva K. et al (2023): Human brain organoid model of maternal immune activation identifies radial glia cells as selectively vulnerable. Molecular Psychiatry; DOI: 10.1038/s41380-023-01997-1.

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