Gestational immune activation and Tsc2 haploinsufficiency cooperate to disrupt fetal survival and may perturb social behavior in adult mice

Mol Psychiatry. 2012 Jan;17(1):62-70. doi: 10.1038/mp.2010.115. Epub 2010 Nov 16.


Approximately 40-50% of individuals affected by tuberous sclerosis (TSC) develop autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). One possible explanation for this partial penetrance is an interaction between TSC gene mutations and other risk factors such as gestational immune activation. In this study, we report the interactive effects of these two ASD risk factors in a mouse model of TSC. Combined, but not single, exposure had adverse effects on intrauterine survival. Additionally, provisional results suggest that these factors synergize to disrupt social approach behavior in adult mice. Moreover, studies in human populations are consistent with an interaction between high seasonal flu activity in late gestation and TSC mutations in ASD. Taken together, our studies raise the possibility of a gene × environment interaction between heterozygous TSC gene mutations and gestational immune activation in the pathogenesis of TSC-related ASD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive* / etiology
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive* / genetics
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive* / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Female
  • Haploinsufficiency / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Active / drug effects
  • Immunity, Active / physiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Poly I-C / adverse effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / chemically induced
  • Pregnancy Complications / immunology
  • Pregnancy Complications / mortality
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / deficiency*


  • TSC2 protein, human
  • Tsc2 protein, mouse
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Poly I-C