PURPOSE: Prenatal infection during pregnancy is a risk factor for schizophrenia, as well as for other developmental psychiatric disorders, such as autism and bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia patients were reported to have altered brain metabolism and neuroinflammation. However, the link between prenatal infection, altered brain inflammation and metabolism, and schizophrenia remains unclear. In this project, we aimed to evaluate whether there are changes in brain glucose consumption and microglia activation in the offspring of pregnant rats exposed to maternal immune activation (MIA), and if so, whether these changes occur before or after the initiation of schizophrenia-like behaviour.
PROCEDURES: Pregnant rats were treated with the viral mimic polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (MIA group) or saline (control group) on gestational day 15. Static PET scans of the male offspring were acquired on postnatal day (PND) 21, 60, and 90, using [11C]-PK11195 and deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose ([18F]-FDG) as tracers to measure TSPO expression in activated microglia and brain glucose consumption, respectively. On PND60 and PND90, anxiety-like behaviour, recognition memory, and sensorimotor gating were measured using the open field test (OFT), novel object recognition test (NOR), and prepulse inhibition test (PPI).
RESULTS: [18F]-FDG PET demonstrated that MIA offspring displayed higher brain glucose consumption in the whole brain after weaning (p = 0.017), and in the frontal cortex during late adolescence (p = 0.001) and adulthood (p = 0.037) than control rats. [11C]-PK11195 PET did not reveal any changes in TSPO expression in MIA offspring. Prenatal infection induced age-related behavioural alterations. Adolescent MIA offspring displayed a more anxious state in the OFT than controls (p = 0.042). Adult MIA offspring showed recognition memory deficits in the NOR (p = 0.003). Our study did not show any PPI deficits.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that prenatal immune activation changed neurodevelopment, resulting in increased brain glucose consumption, but not in microglia activation. The increased brain glucose consumption in the frontal cortex of MIA offspring remained until adulthood and was associated with increased anxiety-like behaviour during adolescence and recognition memory deficits in adulthood.