Maternal aripiprazole exposure interacts with 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase mutations and alters embryonic neurodevelopment

Thiago C. Genaro-Mattos, Luke B. Allen, Allison Anderson, Keri A. Tallman, Ned A. Porter, Zeljka Korade, Károly Mirnics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Mutations in both copies in the gene encoding 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR7) cause Smith–Lemli–Opitz Syndrome (SLOS), which is characterized by a toxic elevation in 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC). Aripiprazole (ARI) exposure, independent of genetic mutations, also leads to elevation of 7-DHC. We investigated the combined effect of a single-copy Dhcr7 +/− mutation and maternal ARI exposure on the developing offspring brain. We generated a time-pregnant mouse model where WT and Dhcr7 +/ embryos were maternally exposed to ARI or vehicle (VEH) from E12 to E19 (5 mg/kg). Levels of cholesterol, its precursors, ARI and its metabolites were measured at P0. We found that ARI and its metabolites were transported across the placenta and reached the brain of offspring. Maternal ARI exposure led to decreased viability of embryos and increased 7-DHC levels, regardless of maternal or offspring Dhcr7 genotype. In addition, Dhcr7 +/ pups were more vulnerable to maternal ARI exposure than their WT littermates, and maternal Dhcr7 +/ genotype also exacerbated offspring response to ARI treatment. Finally, both 7-DHC levels and 7-DHC/cholesterol ratio is the highest in Dhcr7 +/ pups from Dhcr7 +/ mothers exposed to ARI, underscoring a potentially dangerous interaction between maternal genotype×embryonic genotype×treatment. Our findings have important clinical implications. SLOS patients should avoid drugs that increase 7-DHC levels such as ARI, trazodone and haloperidol. In addition, treatment with 7-DHC elevating substances might be potentially unsafe for the 1–1.5% of population with single-allele disruptions of the DHCR7 gene. Finally, prenatal and parental genetic testing for DHCR7 should be considered before prescribing sterol-interfering medications during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-500
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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