Zengeler, Kristine (Lukens)
A heightened male susceptibility to developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been appreciated since the first diagnoses of the disorder; however, the etiologic factors that contribute to this remain unclear. It is now recognized that ASD likely results from a combination of both genetic and environmental risk factors. In particular, maternal immune activation (MIA) during pregnancy has increasingly been linked to disruptions in embryonic brain maturation and the development of autistic-like behavioral abnormalities later in life. The identification of traits that render males vulnerable or that protect females against ASD have yet to be defined. I am interested in exploring the cell types and molecular mechanisms that contribute to sex bias in the MIA model of autism with the goal of identifying putative therapeutic strategies to mitigate the increasing incidence of ASD.