Maternal immune activation (MIA) increases the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in offspring. Microbial dysbiosis is associated with ASD symptoms. However, the alterations in the brain–gut–microbiota axis in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced MIA offspring remain unclear. Here, we examined the social behavior, anxiety-like and repetitive behavior, microbiota profile, and myelination levels in LPS-induced MIA rat offspring. Compared with control offspring, MIA male rat offspring spent less time in an active social interaction with stranger rats, displayed more anxiety-like and repetitive behavior, and had more hypomyelination in the prefrontal cortex and thalamic nucleus. A fecal microbiota analysis revealed that MIA offspring had a higher abundance of Alistipes, Fusobacterium, and Ruminococcus and a lower abundance of Coprococcus, Erysipelotrichaies, and Actinobacteria than control offspring, which is consistent with that of humans with ASD. The least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) method was applied to determine the relative importance of the microbiota, which indicated that the abundance of Alistipes and Actinobacteria was the most relevant for the profile of defective social behavior, whereas Fusobacterium and Co-prococcus was associated with anxiety-like and repetitive behavior. In summary, LPS-induced MIA offspring showed an abnormal brain–gut–microbiota axis with social behavior deficits, anxiety-like and repetitive behavior, hypomyelination, and an ASD-like microbiota profile.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1085
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Brain–gut–microbiota axis
  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • Maternal immune activation
  • Microbiota
  • Myelination
  • Social behavior deficits
  • Three-chamber test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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