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Postnatal immune activation causes social deficits in a mouse model of tuberous sclerosis: Role of microglia and clinical implications


There is growing evidence that prenatal immune activation contributes to neuropsychiatric disorders. Here, we show that early postnatal immune activation resulted in profound impairments in social behavior, including in social memory in adult male mice heterozygous for a gene responsible for tuberous sclerosis complex (Tsc2+/−), a genetic disorder with high prevalence of autism. Early postnatal immune activation did not affect either wild-type or female Tsc2+/− mice. We demonstrate that these memory deficits are caused by abnormal mammalian target of rapamycin–dependent interferon signaling and impairments in microglia function. By mining the medical records of more than 3 million children followed from birth, we show that the prevalence of hospitalizations due to infections in males (but not in females) is associated with future development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Together, our results suggest the importance of synergistic interactions between strong early postnatal immune activation and mutations associated with ASD.

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