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Nat Neurosci. 2018 May;21(5):765-772. doi: 10.1038/s41593-018-0128-y. Epub 2018 Apr 9.

Maternal IL-6 during pregnancy can be estimated from newborn brain connectivity and predicts future working memory in offspring.

Author information

1
Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.
2
Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.
3
Development, Health and Disease Research Program, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA.
4
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.
5
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), Berlin, Germany.
6
Development, Health and Disease Research Program, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA. claudia.buss@charite.de.
7
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), Berlin, Germany. claudia.buss@charite.de.
8
Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA. faird@ohsu.edu.
9
Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA. faird@ohsu.edu.
10
Advanced Imaging Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA. faird@ohsu.edu.

Abstract

Several lines of evidence support the link between maternal inflammation during pregnancy and increased likelihood of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders in offspring. This longitudinal study seeks to advance understanding regarding implications of systemic maternal inflammation during pregnancy, indexed by plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) concentrations, for large-scale brain system development and emerging executive function skills in offspring. We assessed maternal IL-6 during pregnancy, functional magnetic resonance imaging acquired in neonates, and working memory (an important component of executive function) at 2 years of age. Functional connectivity within and between multiple neonatal brain networks can be modeled to estimate maternal IL-6 concentrations during pregnancy. Brain regions heavily weighted in these models overlap substantially with those supporting working memory in a large meta-analysis. Maternal IL-6 also directly accounts for a portion of the variance of working memory at 2 years of age. Findings highlight the association of maternal inflammation during pregnancy with the developing functional architecture of the brain and emerging executive function.

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