The maternal autoimmune environment affects the social behavior of offspring.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders with unknown etiology.
BTBR-T+tf/J (BTBR) mice, a mouse strain with behaviors that resemble autism and with elevated levels of anti-brain antibodies (Abs), have enhanced activation of peripheral B cells and CD4+ T cells and an expanded percentage of CD4+ T cells expressing Vβ6 chains.
The CD4+CD25+Vβ6+ and Vβ6-splenic cells of BTBR mice have elevated levels of IL-4, IFN-γ and IL-17, but there appears to be no preferential CD4+ T subset skewing/polarization.
The high level of IgG production by BTBR B cells was dependent on T cells from BTBR mice. The CD4+ T cells of BTBR mice, especially those expressing Vβ6 become spontaneously activated and expanded in an autoimmune-like manner, which occurred in both BTBR and B6 hosts that received an equal number of BTBR and B6 bone marrow cells. BTBR mice also have an elevated percentage of peripheral blood neutrophils, which may represent their elevated inflammatory state.
B6 offspring derived from B6 dams that were gestationally injected with purified IgG from sera of BTBR mice, but not IgG of B6 mice, developed significantly impaired social behavior.
Additionally, B6 offspring that developed in BTBR dams had impaired social behavior, while BTBR offspring that developed in B6 dams had improved social behavior.
All of the immunological and behavioral parameters of BTBR mice were compared with those of B6 mice, which have relatively normal behaviors. The results indicate maternal Abs and possibly other maternal influences affect the social behavior of offspring.