Maternal diet during early gestation influences postnatal taste activity–dependent pruning by microglia

Chengsan Sun, Shuqiu Zheng, Justin S.A. Perry, Geoffrey T. Norris, Mei Cheng, Fanzhen Kong, Rolf Skyberg, Jianhua Cang, Alev Erisir, Jonathan Kipnis, David L. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A key process in central sensory circuit development involves activity-dependent pruning of exuberant terminals. Here, we studied gustatory terminal field maturation in the postnatal mouse nucleus of the solitary tract (NST) during normal development and in mice where their mothers were fed a low NaCl diet for a limited period soon after conception. Pruning of terminal fields of gustatory nerves in controls involved the complement system and is likely driven by NaCl-elicited taste activity. In contrast, offspring of mothers with an early dietary manipulation failed to prune gustatory terminal fields even though peripheral taste activity developed normally. The ability to prune in these mice was rescued by activating myeloid cells postnatally, and conversely, pruning was arrested in controls with the loss of myeloid cell function. The altered pruning and myeloid cell function appear to be programmed before the peripheral gustatory system is assembled and corresponds to the embryonic period when microglia progenitors derived from the yolk sac migrate to and colonize the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20212476
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 4 2023


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