Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been found to have a variety of sensory processing deficits. Here we report that maternal immune activation, a known factor for ASD, alters visual acuity in the offspring mice. By intraperitoneally injecting polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (polyI:C) to induce maternal immune activation during embryonic days 10 to 14, we found that polyI:C treatment impairs visual acuity in young adult offspring mice as examined by their optomotor responses. Concurrently, polyI:C treatment suppresses retinogeniculate axon elimination, resulting in a high fraction of weak optical fibers innervating the relay neurons in the visual thalamus. The results link in-utero maternal inflammation to defective optical fiber pruning and arrested developmental strengthening of single optic fibers which may underlie impaired visual acuity.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Maternal immune activation; Retinogeniculate axon pruning; Visual acuity.
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