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It has been well established that maternal inflammation during pregnancy alters neurological function in the offspring, but its impact on cortical development and long-term consequences on the cytoarchitecture is largely unstudied. Here we report that lipopolysaccharide-induced systemic maternal inflammation in C57Bl/6 mice at embryonic Day 13.5 of pregnancy, as early as 8 h after challenge, caused a significant reduction in cell proliferation in the ventricular zone of the developing cerebral cortex, as revealed by quantification of anti-phospho-Histone H3 immunoreactivity and bromodeoxyuridine pulse labelling. The angle of mitotic cleavage, determined from analysis of haematoxylin and eosin staining, cyclin E1 gene expression and the pattern of β-catenin immunoreactivity were also altered by the challenge, which suggests a change from symmetric to asymmetric division in the radial progenitor cells. Modifications of cortical lamination and gene expression patterns were detected at post-natal Day 8 suggesting prolonged consequences of these alterations during embryonic development. Cellular uptake of proteins from the cerebrospinal fluid was observed in brains from lipopolysaccharide-treated animals in radial progenitor cells. However, the foetal blood-brain barrier to plasma proteins remained intact. Together, these results indicate that maternal inflammation can disrupt the ventricular surface and lead to decreased cellular proliferation. Changes in cell density in Layers IV and V at post-natal Day 8 show that these initial changes have prolonged effects on cortical organization. The possible shift in the fate of progeny and the resulting alterations in the relative cell numbers in the cerebral cortex following a maternal inflammatory response shown here will require further investigation to determine the long-term consequences of inflammation on the development of neuronal circuitry and behaviour.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





3236 - 3248


Animals, Cell Proliferation, Cerebral Cortex, Cerebral Ventricles, Female, Inflammation, Mice, Neurons, Pregnancy, Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects, Stem Cells