Effects of prenatal hypoxia on schizophrenia-related phenotypes in heterozygous reeler mice: A gene × environment interaction study

Kristy R. Howell, Anilkumar Pillai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Both genetic and environmental factors play important roles in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Although prenatal hypoxia is a potential environmental factor implicated in schizophrenia, very little is known about the consequences of combining models of genetic risk factor with prenatal hypoxia. Heterozygous reeler (haploinsufficient for reelin; HRM) and wild-type (WT) mice were exposed to prenatal hypoxia (9% oxygen for two hour) or normoxia at embryonic day 17 (E17). Behavioral (Prepulse inhibition, Y-maze and Open field) and functional (regional volume in frontal cortex and hippocampus as well as hippocampal blood flow) tests were performed at 3 months of age. The levels of hypoxia and stress-related molecules such as hypoxia-inducible factor-1 α (HIF-1. α), vascular endothelial factor (VEGF), VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR2/Flk1) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) were examined in frontal cortex and hippocampus at E18, 1 month and 3 months of age. In addition, serum VEGF and corticosterone levels were also examined. Prenatal hypoxia induced anxiety-like behavior in both HRM and WT mice. A significant reduction in hippocampal blood flow, but no change in brain regional volume was observed following prenatal hypoxia. Significant age and region-dependent changes in HIF-1. α, VEGF, Flk1 and GR were found following prenatal hypoxia. Serum VEGF and corticosterone levels were found decreased following prenatal hypoxia. None of the above prenatal hypoxia-induced changes were either diminished or exacerbated due to reelin deficiency. These results argue against any gene-environment interaction between hypoxia and reelin deficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1324-1336
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014



  • Mice
  • Prenatal hypoxia
  • Reelin
  • Schizophrenia
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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