Reversing behavioural abnormalities in mice exposed to maternal inflammation.
Viral infection during pregnancy is correlated with increased frequency of neurodevelopmental disorders, and this is studied in mice prenatally subjected to maternal immune activation (MIA). We previously showed that maternal T helper 17 cells promote the development of cortical and behavioural abnormalities in MIA-affected offspring. Here we show that cortical abnormalities are preferentially localized to a region encompassing the dysgranular zone of the primary somatosensory cortex (S1DZ). Moreover, activation of pyramidal neurons in this cortical region was sufficient to induce MIA-associated behavioural phenotypes in wild-type animals, whereas reduction in neural activity rescued the behavioural abnormalities in MIA-affected offspring. Sociability and repetitive behavioural phenotypes could be selectively modulated according to the efferent targets of S1DZ. Our work identifies a cortical region primarily, if not exclusively, centred on the S1DZ as the major node of a neural network that mediates behavioural abnormalities observed in offspring exposed to maternal inflammation.