Neuroanatomical Correlates Underlying the Association Between Maternal Interleukin 6 Concentration During Pregnancy and Offspring Fluid Reasoning Performance in Early Childhood

Jerod M. Rasmussen, Alice M. Graham, Lauren E. Gyllenhammer, Sonja Entringer, Daniel S. Chow, Thomas G. O'Connor, Damien Fair, Pathik D. Wadhwa, Claudia Buss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Maternal inflammation during pregnancy can alter offspring brain development and influence risk for disorders commonly accompanied by deficits in cognitive functioning. We therefore examined associations between maternal interleukin 6 (IL-6) concentrations during pregnancy and offspring cognitive ability and concurrent magnetic resonance imaging–based measures of brain anatomy in early childhood. We further examined newborn brain anatomy in secondary analyses to consider whether effects are evident soon after birth and to increase capacity to differentiate effects of pre- versus postnatal exposures. Methods: IL-6 concentrations were quantified in early (12.6 ± 2.8 weeks), mid (20.4 ± 1.5 weeks), and late (30.3 ± 1.3 weeks) pregnancy. Offspring nonverbal fluid intelligence (Gf) was assessed at 5.2 ± 0.6 years using a spatial reasoning task (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence–Matrix) (n = 49). T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired at birth (n = 89, postmenstrual age = 42.9 ± 2.0 weeks) and in early childhood (n = 42, scan age = 5.1 ± 1.0 years). Regional cortical volumes were examined for a joint association between maternal IL-6 and offspring Gf performance. Results: Average maternal IL-6 concentration during pregnancy was inversely associated with offspring Gf performance after adjusting for socioeconomic status and the quality of the caregiving and learning environment (R2 = 13%; p = .02). Early-childhood pars triangularis volume was jointly associated with maternal IL-6 and childhood Gf (pcorrected < .001). An association also was observed between maternal IL-6 and newborn pars triangularis volume (R2 = 6%; p = .02). Conclusions: These findings suggest that the origins of variation in child cognitive ability can, in part, trace back to maternal conditions during the intrauterine period of life and support the role of inflammation as an important component of this putative biological pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-33
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Fluid intelligence
  • Fluid reasoning
  • Inferior frontal gyrus
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin 6
  • Longitudinal MRI
  • Newborn
  • Pars triangularis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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