Dopamine and serotonin levels following prenatal viral infection in mouse-Implications for psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism

Christine Winter, Teri J. Reutiman, Timothy D. Folsom, Reinhard Sohr, Rainer J. Wolf, Georg Juckel, S H Fatemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Prenatal viral infection has been associated with neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. It has previously been demonstrated that viral infection causes deleterious effects on brain structure and function in mouse offspring following late first trimester (E9) and middle-late second trimester (E18) administration of influenza virus. Neurochemical analysis following infection on E18 using this model has revealed significantly altered levels of serotonin, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, and taurine, but not dopamine. In order to monitor these different patterns of monoamine expression in exposed offspring in more detail and to see if there are changes in the dopamine system at another time point, pregnant C57BL6J mice were infected with a sublethal dose of human influenza virus or sham-infected using vehicle solution on E16. Male offspring of the infected mice were collected at P0, P14, and P56, their brains removed and cerebellum dissected and flash frozen. Dopamine and serotonin levels were then measured using HPLC-ED technique. When compared to controls, there was a significant decrease in serotonin levels in the cerebella of offspring of virally exposed mice at P14. No differences in levels of dopamine were observed in exposed and control mice, although there was a significant decrease in dopamine at P14 and P56 when compared to P0. The present study shows that the serotonergic system is disrupted following prenatal viral infection, potentially modelling disruptions that occur in patients with schizophrenia and autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-716
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are thankful to the Faculty program of Humboldt-University (Berlin) for giving us a grant for the project ″Neuroinflammation in Schizophrenia” (GJ). Grant support by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (#1R01 HD046589-01A2) to SHF is gratefully acknowledged. The funding sources had no influence on the study and its publication.


  • Autism
  • Dopamine
  • Schizophrenia
  • Serotonin
  • Viral infection


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