Neurodevelopmental disorders

Adult playing blocks with infant - UC Davis Mind InstituteA primary focus of our research is investigating factors that influence development of the peripheral and central nervous system.

We have made significant contributions to understanding the role of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) and pro-inflammatory cytokines in regulating axonal and dendritic growth in sympathetic neurons as well as hippocampal and cortical neurons. We have also investigated the effects of biological sex, drugs (statins) and environmental chemicals (the organophosphorus pesticide chlorpyrifos, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)) on dendritic arborization, both in primary neurons grown in culture and in the developing brain of rodent models. Our studies with PCBs led to the identification of specific calcium-dependent intracellular signaling pathways that map onto neurodevelopmental disorder risk genes (Collaborator: Isaac Pessah).

Current funding:
Molecular and Cellular Basis of PCB Developmental Neurotoxicity 
R01 ES014901 Lein (Contact) and Lehmler (MPI) 12/01/2008 – 11/30/2025
The proposed research will quantify the developmental neurotoxicity of lower-chlorinated polychlorinated biphenyls (LC-PCBs) found in the
human gestational environment and investigate how metabolism by human cytochrome P450 enzymes influences neurotoxic outcomes
in experimental animals exposed to LC-PCBs in the maternal diet throughout gestation and lactation. (Collaborative project includes  Xinxin Ding).

PCB-mediated Dysbiosis of the Gut Microbiome: A Missing Link in PCB-mediated Neurodevelopmental Disorders?
R01 ES031098 Cui, Lehmler (Contact) and Lein (MPI) 02/01/2020 – 11/30/2024
The goal of this project is to test the central hypothesis that dysbiosis of the gut microbiome associated with developmental expo-sure to varying doses of PCBs contributes to adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Role of Excess Maternal Linoleic Acid Intake on Infant Neurodevelopment
R21 HD095391 (Taha) 02/01/2019 - 01/31/2021 
The goal is to assess the impacts of dietary linoleic acid (LA) and its oxidized metabolites (OXLAMS) during pregnancy and lactation on child brain development and to identify specific metabolites responsible for possible adverse effects. (Lein: Co-Investigator on grant)