Induction of Maternal Immune Activation in Mice at Mid-gestation Stage with Viral Mimic Poly(I:C)

J Vis Exp. 2016 Mar 25;(109):e53643. doi: 10.3791/53643.


Maternal immune activation (MIA) model is increasingly well appreciated as a rodent model for the environmental risk factor of various psychiatric disorders. Numerous studies have demonstrated that MIA model is able to show face, construct, and predictive validity that are relevant to autism and schizophrenia. To model MIA, investigators often use viral mimic polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C)) to activate the immune system in pregnant rodents. Generally, the offspring from immune activated dam exhibit behavioral abnormalities and physiological alterations that are associated with autism and schizophrenia. However, poly(I:C) injection with different dosages and at different time points could lead to different outcomes by perturbing brain development at different stages. Here we provide a detailed method of inducing MIA by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of 20 mg/kg poly(I:C) at mid-gestational embryonic 12.5 days (E12.5). This method has been shown to induce acute inflammatory response in the maternal-placental-fetal axis, which ultimately results in the brain perturbations and behavioral phenotypes that are associated with autism and schizophrenia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autistic Disorder / etiology
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / embryology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Poly I-C / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / immunology*
  • Schizophrenia / etiology


  • Poly I-C