Researchers with the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience and Department of Neurology discovered that newborn babies can be born with autism or schizophrenia, caused by maternal viral infection. This study is entitled “MHCI Requires MEF2 Transcription Factors to Negatively Regulate Synapse Density during Development and in Disease” and is published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Kimberley McAllister, professor in the Center for Neuroscience with appointments in the departments of Neurology and Neurobiology, Psychology and Behavior and a researcher with the UC Davis MIND Institute is the study leader.
The study was conducted in mice and McAllister concluded that “these results indicate that maternal immune activation does indeed alter connectivity during prenatal development, causing a profound deficit in the ability of cortical neurons to form synapses that is caused by changes in levels of MHCI on the neuron”. McAllister has the goal to develop potential treatment for extending the life of individuals born with such neurodevelopmental diseases.
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