Epidemiological evidence points to prenatal viral infection being responsible for some forms of schizophrenia and autism. We hypothesized that prenatal human influenza viral infection in day 9 pregnant mice may cause changes in the levels of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), an important molecule involved in synaptogenesis and excitotoxicity, in neonatal brains. Brains from 35- and 56-day-old mice were prepared for SDS-gel electrophoresis and Western blotting using polyclonal anti nNOS antibody. Quantification of nNOS showed time and region-dependent changes in the levels of nNOS protein. Mean rostral brain area value from prenatally infected animals showed a significant (p = 0.067) increase of 147% in nNOS levels at 35 days postnatally, with an eventual 29% decrease on day 56. Middle and caudal brain areas showed reductions in nNOS in experimental mice at 35 and 56 days, with a significant 27% decrease in nNOS in the middle segment of day 56 brains (p = 0.016). Significant interactions were found between group membership and brain area (Wilks lambda = 0.440, F(2.9) = 5.72, p = 0.025); there was also a significant interaction between brain area, group and age (Wilks lambda = 0.437, F(2.9) = 5.79, p = 0.024). These results provide further support for the notion that prenatal viral infection affects brain development adversely via the pathological involvement of nNOS expression. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Human influenza
- Neuronal nitric oxide synthase