The Role of Maternal Stress and Gut Microbiome in Modulating Maternal, Fetal, and Adult Offspring Immune Function and Offspring Behavioral Outcomes
MetadataShow full item record
Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Molecular Genetics Honors Theses; 2021
Exposure to stress in utero is associated with the development of mood and neurodevelopmental disorders in offspring, including generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While the mechanisms underlying how prenatal stress (PNS) modulates offspring neurodevelopment are largely unknown, a significant body of research has investigated the role of maternal immune dysregulation in eliciting stress-related neurodevelopmental effects in offspring. Due to the well-documented cross-talk between the host immune system and gut microbiome, we hypothesized that stress-induced disruptions of the maternal gut microbiome could reshape maternal and fetal immune function—consequently impacting neurodevelopment as reflected by changes in offspring behavior. Using antibiotics to disrupt the maternal gut microbiome in combination with our mouse model of prenatal stress, immune function was evaluated in maternal, fetal, and adult offspring tissues using RT-qPCR to assess relative mRNA abundance for immunomodulatory genes. PNS and antibiotic conditions had broadly immunosuppressive effects in the maternal gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Sex-specific analyses in the placenta and fetal brain revealed differential effects of PNS and antibiotics on cytokine and chemokine mRNA concentrations in the male placenta and female fetal brain, as well as trending, but not significant, alterations in adult offspring microglia. PNS and antibiotics did not elicit changes in adult offspring behavior as measured by limited replicates of marble burying and light-dark preference tests. Overall, these findings further reveal the complex interactions between PNS, maternal gut dysbiosis, and maternal and fetal immune function.
Academic Major: Molecular Genetics
Items in Knowledge Bank are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.