Maternal Infection can Affect Offspring Throughout Their Life, But Timing Plays a Role as to How


  • Maddie Lykouretzos Hotchkiss School
  • Morgan Reiss Hotchkiss School



PolyI:C, Maternal Infection, Neurodevelopment, Cytokine


Early brain development marks a period of vulnerability during gestation that when disturbed, can lead to changes in physical, mental, social and cognitive development in offspring, including risk for neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Meyer et al., 2006). These disturbances have an incredibly strong link to maternal infection, but more specifically, the body’s cytokine-associated immune response. Studies show a direct link between an excess of cytokines and changes (behavior reminiscent of ASD, schizophrenia, and obsessiveness) in the offspring, although cytokines aren’t the only major factor at play. Different trimesters of gestation open up different periods of vulnerability to the developing fetus during which cytokines in the fetal brain may respond in different ways that can lead to dysfunction in the offspring (Meyer et al., 2006). One group in particular conducted a study of mice to demonstrate how infection during the first or second trimester of pregnancy can have different effects on the offspring and their behavioral development later in life.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Morgan Reiss, Hotchkiss School


References or Bibliography

Ashdown, H., Dumont, Y., Ng, M. et al. (2006) The role of cytokines in mediating effects of

prenatal infection on the fetus: implications for schizophrenia. Mol Psychiatry 11, 47–55

Barker D. J. (2007). The origins of the developmental origins theory. Journal of internal

medicine, 261(5), 412–417.

Bilbo, S. D., & Schwarz, J. M. (2009). Early-life programming of later-life brain and behavior: a

critical role for the immune system. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 3, 14.

Bryan KJ, Lee H, Perry G, et al. (2009) Transgenic Mouse Models of Alzheimer’s Disease:

Behavioral Testing and Considerations. In: Buccafusco JJ, editor. Methods of Behavior Analysis in Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. Chapter 1.

Jossin Y. (2020). Reelin Functions, Mechanisms of Action and Signaling Pathways During

Brain Development and Maturation. Biomolecules, 10(6), 964.

Meier U. (2006). A note on the power of Fisher's least significant difference procedure.

Pharmaceutical statistics, 5(4), 253–263.

Patricia Boksa. (2010) Effects of prenatal infection on brain development and behavior: A

review of findings from animal models. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Volume 24, Issue 6, Pages 881-897, ISSN 0889-1591,

Porter, A. G., & Jänicke, R. U. (1999). Emerging roles of caspase-3 in apoptosis. Cell

death and differentiation, 6(2), 99–104.

Rasmussen, S. A., & Jamieson, D. J. (2020). Teratogen update: Zika virus and pregnancy.

Birth defects research, 112(15), 1139–1149.

Urs Meyer, Myriel Nyffeler, Andrea Engler, Adrian Urwyler, Manfred Schedlowski, Irene Knuesel, Benjamin K.

Yee and Joram Feldon, The Time of Prenatal Immune Challenge Determines the Specificity of Inflammation-Mediated Brain and Behavioral Pathology, Journal of Neuroscience 3 May 2006, 26 (18) 4752-4762; DOI:

Vasistha, N.A., Pardo-Navarro, M., Gasthaus, J. et al. Maternal inflammation has a profound

effect on cortical interneuron development in a stage and subtype-specific manner. Mol Psychiatry 25, 2313–2329 (2020).



How to Cite

Lykouretzos, M., & Reiss, M. (2022). Maternal Infection can Affect Offspring Throughout Their Life, But Timing Plays a Role as to How . Journal of Student Research, 11(2).



HS Review Articles