Stress or Ultrasonic Stimulation In Utero Could Alter Neuronal Migration Patterns

October 19, 2011 · Posted in Risk Factors 
GABAergic neurons

GABAergic neurons

At the 57th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) in October 2010, Hanna Stevens of the Yale Child Study Center reported that rat pups in utero who experienced prenatal stress (i.e., when the pregnant rat was restrained during the last week of pregnancy) had fewer neurons containing GABA, which is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, than control pups.  This deficit may reflect a delay in the neurons’ ventral to rostral migration or in their maturation. These deficits in GABAergic neurons following prenatal stress are noteworthy in light of the deficits in GABAergic neurons found in adults with bipolar illness. This research is unusual in that it suggests that prenatal stress can affect neuronal numbers.

Editor’s Note: Stevens was aware of data from the renowned neuroanatomist Pasco Rakic, also at Yale. Some years ago Rakic reported that ultrasonic stimulation of the brain had major disorganizing effects on neuronal migration in the primate brain. Since prenatal stress and ultrasonic stimulation can affect neuronal migration, and dysregulation of neuronal migration has been implicated in autism, these data raise the hypothesis (so far untested) that one possible reason for the recent increases in the incidence of autism is the increased use of sonograms to monitor various aspects of prenatal growth and development during pregnancy.  These preclinical findings deserve to be further studied for their potential relevance to humans.

Comments

Leave a Reply