Prenatal immune stress blunts microglia reactivity, impairing neurocircuitry

Academic Article


  • Recent studies suggested that microglia, the primary brain immune cells, can affect circuit connectivity and neuronal function1,2. Microglia infiltrate the neuroepithelium early in embryonic development and are maintained in the brain throughout adulthood3,4. Several maternal environmental factors—such as an aberrant microbiome, immune activation and poor nutrition—can influence prenatal brain development5,6. Nevertheless, it is unknown how changes in the prenatal environment instruct the developmental trajectory of infiltrating microglia, which in turn affect brain development and function. Here we show that, after maternal immune activation (MIA) in mice, microglia from the offspring have a long-lived decrease in immune reactivity (blunting) across the developmental trajectory. The blunted immune response was accompanied by changes in chromatin accessibility and reduced transcription factor occupancy of the open chromatin. Single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis revealed that MIA does not induce a distinct subpopulation but, rather, decreases the contribution to inflammatory microglia states. Prenatal replacement of microglia from MIA offspring with physiological infiltration of naive microglia ameliorated the immune blunting and restored a decrease in presynaptic vesicle release probability onto dopamine receptor type-two medium spiny neurons, indicating that aberrantly formed microglia due to an adverse prenatal environment affect the long-term microglia reactivity and proper striatal circuit development.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Nature  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hayes LN; An K; Carloni E; Li F; Vincent E; Trippaers C; Paranjpe M; Dölen G; Goff LA; Ramos A
  • Start Page

  • 327
  • End Page

  • 334
  • Volume

  • 610
  • Issue

  • 7931