Blocking the ErbB pathway during adolescence affects the induction of anxiety-like behavior in young adult maternal immune activation offspring

Saher Abu-Ata, Orya Noa Shukha, Yaseen Awad-Igbaria, Karen Ginat, Eilam Palzur, Idit Golani, Alon Shamir

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4 Scopus citations


Epidemiological and experimental evidence demonstrates that maternal exposure to infection during gestation increases the offspring's risk of developing schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition, the NRG-ErbB4 signaling pathway is involved in brain development and neuropsychiatric disorders. Specifically, this pathway modulates the dopaminergic and GABAergic systems and is expressed in the early stages of prenatal development. We recently demonstrated that maternal immune activation (MIA) at late gestation altered the expression of NRG1, its receptor ErbB4, and the dopamine D2 receptor four hours post-injection of viral or LPS in the fetal brain. We also reported that blocking the ErbB pathway during adolescence resulted in increased striatal DA content and reduced preference for sweetness and alcohol that persists into adulthood. However, the combined effects of MIA, re-activation of the immune system, and disruption of the ErbB signaling during adolescence would affect young adult mice's behavioral phenotype is unknown. Here, we report that the expression levels of the NRG1, ErbB4, GAD67, and BDNF were changed as responses to MIA and blocked the ErbB signaling in the frontal cortex of adolescent mice. MIA-Offspring during late gestation and immune system re-activation during adolescence spent less time in the open arms of the elevated plus-maze in adulthood. At the same time, MIA-offspring administrated with the pan-ErbB inhibitor during adolescence spent the same amount of time in the opened arm as the control mice. Combining the ErbB signaling disruption during adolescence leads to a social interaction impairment in female offspring, but not male, without affecting the offspring's motor activity, long-term recognition, and working memory. These results imply that blocking the ErbB signaling during adolescence prevents the development of anxiety-like behavior of the MIA offspring later in life and suggest that this interaction does not reduce the risk of female MIA offspring developing impaired social behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number173497
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 2023

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  • Animal behavior
  • Anxiety
  • BDNF
  • LPS
  • Maternal immune activation (MIA)
  • NRG-Erbb4 signaling


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