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Prefrontal cortex development and mental illness

Mouse study shows how abnormal brain development and maternal stress may interact to produce schizophrenia, bipolar, and depressive disorders

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Figure 1. Transient DISC1 knock-down confined to pyramidal neurons in PFC by site directed in utero electroporation. view more 

Credit: Xu et al., JNeurosci (2019)

Faulty wiring of the prefrontal cortex during development leads to abnormal brain activity and cognitive impairments related to mental illness, according to a mouse study published in JNeurosci.

Eliminating a molecule called Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) from the entire brain has been previously shown to alter connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus and impair the cognitive abilities this circuit supports in mice exposed to an environmental stressor. Ileana Hanganu-Opatz and colleagues now show similar deficits arise from disrupting DISC1 in a specific group of prefrontal cortex neurons in mouse embryos whose mothers were infected with a virus. These findings uncover a mechanism by which abnormal development of the prefrontal cortex and maternal stress interact to produce brain and behavior impairments reminiscent of schizophrenia, bipolar, and depressive disorders.

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Article: Transient knock-down of prefrontal DISC1 in immune-challenged mice causes abnormal long-range coupling and cognitive dysfunction throughout development

DOI: http://www.jneurosci.org/lookup/doi/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2170-18.2018

Corresponding author: Ileana L. Hanganu-Opatz (University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany), hangop@zmnh.uni-hamburg.de

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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