Gestational exposure to a viral mimetic poly(i:C) results in long-lasting changes in mitochondrial function by leucocytes in the adult offspring.
Maternal immune activation (MIA) is a potential risk factor for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia (SZ).
In rodents, MIA results in changes in cytokine profiles and abnormal behaviors in the offspring that model these neuropsychiatric conditions.
Given the central role that mitochondria have in immunity and other metabolic pathways, we hypothesized that MIA will result in a fetal imprinting that leads to postnatal deficits in the bioenergetics of immune cells.
To this end, splenocytes from adult offspring exposed gestationally to the viral mimic poly(I:C) were evaluated for mitochondrial outcomes.
A significant decrease in mitochondrial ATP production was observed in poly(I:C)-treated mice (45% of controls) mainly attributed to a lower complex I activity. No differences were observed between the two groups in the coupling of electron transport to ATP synthesis, or the oxygen uptake under uncoupling conditions. Concanavalin A- (ConA-) stimulated splenocytes from poly(I:C) animals showed no statistically significant changes in cytokine levels compared to controls.
The present study reports for the first time that MIA activation by poly(I:C) at early gestation, which can lead to behavioral impairments in the offspring similar to SZ and ASD, leads to long-lasting effects in the bioenergetics of splenocytes of adult offspring.