New Study Suggests Early-Life Infection Enhances Microglial Cell Activity in Neonatal Piglets

Microglia cells are the first line of defense in the central nervous system. Early-life infection is predicted to affect microglial cells, making them hypersensitive to stimuli such as the neuroimmune factors thought to play important roles in the etiology of psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.

Researchers at the University of Illinois assessed gene expression in hippocampal tissue from neonatal piglets infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory virus (PRRSV).  The piglet immune system is similar to human as is growth and development of its gyrencephalic brain.  Results of the analysis were recently published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.