Maternal infection

Research image of microglia in mice.

Microglial overreaction to atypical neurons may drive autism

In mice and organoids lacking a neuronal protein, microglia prune synapses to excess.

By Holly Barker
21 March 2024 | 5 min read
A research image of a mouse brain

Immune-activation model mice escape infantile amnesia, retain early memories

Male pups born to mothers treated with immune-stimulating molecules show autism-like behaviors and, unlike wildtype animals, do not lose memories formed during early life.

By Giorgia Guglielmi
11 January 2024 | 5 min read
A multiplexed image of human decidua.

Atlas charts cells of human placenta, uterus across early pregnancy

A new resource gives an unparalleled look at how fetal placental cells attach to the uterine wall and remodel maternal blood vessels to access nutrients.

By Emily Hayes
27 July 2023 | 4 min read
Research image of radial glial cells in a human brain organoid.
Organoids Microphone

Immune molecule alters cellular makeup of human brain organoids

The changes may help explain the link between maternal infection and autism, though more research is needed.

By Charles Q. Choi
5 April 2023 | 4 min listen
Research image of the posterior insular cortex.

Maternal immune response dulls male rats’ social radar

Male rats prenatally exposed to a maternal immune response have atypical responses to other rats in distress, according to a new study.

By Angie Voyles Askham
27 March 2023 | 5 min listen
Illustration of a pregnant woman seated next to a large diagram of the brain featuring chromosomes, bacteria and other microbes.
Spectrum Microphone

The link between maternal infection and autism, explained

Having an infection during pregnancy is tied to a small increase in the chances of having an autistic child, but the connection may not be causal.

By Charles Q. Choi
13 December 2022 | 7 min read
Light micrograph of microglia cells stained with Rio Hortega’s silver carbonate method.
Spectrum Microphone

Autism’s sex bias tied to glial, immune cell gene expression

The function of microglia and astrocytes in the brain may mediate the intersection of sex-differential biology and autism biology.

By Angie Voyles Askham
22 November 2022 | 3 min read
Illustration of hybrid objects: part light bulb, part lab vial, some in blue and some in red to signify null and replicated results.

Null and Noteworthy: COVID-19 conclusions; diagnosis duplication; oxytocin again

This month’s newsletter explores the pandemic’s effects on autism rates, trends in co-occurring mental health conditions, and the impact of intranasal oxytocin.

By Emily Harris
10 November 2022 | 5 min read
Illustration of hybrid objects: part light bulb, part lab vial, some in blue and some in red to signify null and replicated results.

Null and Noteworthy: Medication timing; oxytocin amounts; sensory sameness

Parents’ health, treatment dosages and sensory perception feature in this month’s crop of null and replicated results.

By Emily Harris
13 October 2022 | 5 min read
A pregnant woman lies in a hospital bed.
Spectrum Microphone

Registry review casts doubt on causal link between maternal infection and autism

The long-standing link between maternal infection during pregnancy and having a child with autism may reflect common genetic or environmental factors instead.

By Charles Q. Choi
23 September 2022 | 5 min read

Explore more from The Transmitter

Brain organoids overgrowth; DSCAM gene; sleep issues in autism

Here is a roundup of autism-related news and research spotted around the web for the week of 24 June.

By Jill Adams
25 June 2024 | 2 min read
Close-up image of a dead fly with visible growths protruding from its abdomen due to Entomophthora fungus infection.

Mind control in zombie flies: Q&A with Carolyn Elya

A parasitic fungus compels its insect host to behave in strange ways by hijacking secretory neurons and circadian pathways.

By Shaena Montanari
25 June 2024 | 5 min read
Illustration of a canyon landscape with an orange clock face in place of a sun.

How to teach this paper: ‘Behavioral time scale synaptic plasticity underlies CA1 place fields,’ by Bittner and Milstein et al. (2017)

Katie Bittner, Aaron Milstein and their colleagues found that cellular learning can happen over longer timescales than Hebb’s rule predicts. How long should we wait to teach students about this phenomenon?

By Ashley Juavinett
24 June 2024 | 11 min read