What is it about?

This study investigates the impact of inflammation during pregnancy on brain injuries in preterm-born newborns. The researchers used a mouse model to understand how inflammation affects the development of a specific type of brain cell called oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs). These cells play a crucial role in forming the brain's white matter. The study found that inflammation leads to a disruption in the normal maturation process of OPCs, contributing to diffuse white matter injury (DWMI) and increasing the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders. We discovered that specific genes related to the immune and inflammatory pathways become abnormally overactive in OPCs during inflammation. These genes already have an accessible chromatin conformation in unaffected OPCs, indicating a predisposition. Additionally, inflammation hinders the normal down regulation of the cell cycle pathway in maturing OPCs, disrupting their normal development. The study suggests that simply suppressing the inflammatory genes may not be a practical therapeutic approach, as it overlooks the broader impact of inflammation on the maturation process of OPCs.

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Why is it important?

This research contributes to our understanding of the complex relationship between prenatal inflammation, premature birth, and neurodevelopmental outcomes. The insights gained have the potential to inform future medical strategies aimed at preventing or mitigating the adverse effects of inflammation on fetal brain development.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Epigenetic priming of immune/inflammatory pathways activation and abnormal activity of cell cycle pathway in a perinatal model of white matter injury, Cell Death and Disease, December 2022, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1038/s41419-022-05483-4.
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