Subtle alterations in neonatal neurodevelopment following early or late exposure to prenatal maternal immune activation in mice

Neuroimage Clin. 2021;32:102868. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102868. Epub 2021 Oct 29.


Prenatal exposure to maternal immune activation (MIA) is a risk factor for a variety of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. The timing of MIA-exposure has been shown to affect adolescent and adult offspring neurodevelopment, however, less is known about these effects in the neonatal period. To better understand the impact of MIA-exposure on neonatal brain development in a mouse model, we assess neonate communicative abilities with the ultrasonic vocalization task, followed by high-resolution ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the neonatal (postnatal day 8) mouse brain. Early exposed offspring displayed decreased communicative ability, while brain anatomy appeared largely unaffected, apart from some subtle alterations. By integrating MRI and behavioural assays to investigate the effects of MIA-exposure on neonatal neurodevelopment we show that offspring neuroanatomy and behaviour are only subtly affected by both early and late exposure. This suggests that the deficits often observed in later stages of life may be dormant, not yet developed in the neonatal period, or not as easily detectable using a cross-sectional approach.

Keywords: Environmental risk factor; Magnetic resonance imaging; Maternal immune activation; Neonate brain development; Ultrasonic vocalizations.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*