Effects of immunization with heat-killed Mycobacterium vaccae on autism spectrum disorder-like behavior and epileptogenesis in a rat model of comorbid autism and epilepsy. Journal Article uri icon

Overview

abstract

  • Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and epilepsy are often comorbid. The basis for this co-occurrence remains unknown; however, inflammatory stressors during development are a shared risk factor. To explore this association, we tested the effect of repeated immunizations using a heat-killed preparation of the stress-protective immunoregulatory microbe Mycobacterium vaccae NCTC 11,659 (M. vaccae) on the behavioral and epileptogenic consequences of the combined stress-terbutaline (ST) rat model of ASD-like behavior/epilepsy. Repeated immunization of the dam with M. vaccae during pregnancy, followed by immunization of the pups after terbutaline injections, prevented the expression of ASD-like behavior but did not appear to protect against, and may have even enhanced, the spontaneous epileptogenic effects of ST. Maternal M. vaccae injections transferred an anti-inflammatory immunophenotype to offspring, and repeated injections across development prevented ST-induced increases in microglial density at early developmental time points in a region-specific manner. Despite epidemiological comorbidity between ASD/epileptic conditions and shared environmental risk factors, our results suggest that the expression of ASD-like behaviors, but perhaps not epileptogenesis, is sensitive to early anti-inflammatory intervention. These data provide support for the exploration of immunoregulatory strategies to prevent the negative neurodevelopmental behavioral effects of stressors during early critical periods.

publication date

  • May 19, 2020

Full Author List

  • Smith ZZ; Kubiak RA; Arnold MR; Loupy KM; Taylor JA; Crist TG; Bernier AE; D'Angelo HM; Heinze JD; Lowry CA

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