Adrienne Antonson's directory photo.

Adrienne Antonson


Assistant Professor

Primary Affiliation

Neurotechnology for Memory and Cognition


Status Affiliate Faculty

Home Department of Animal Sciences




  • Biography

    Dr. Adrienne Antonson is an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She joined the UIUC faculty in January 2021.


    • Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, The Ohio State University, Columbus OH, 2021

    • Ph.D., Immunophysiology and Behavior Program, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2018

    • NIH T32 postdoctoral fellowship, The Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, 2020

  • Honors
    • 2022-2023: List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent (Spring)

    • 2019-2021: Member, Infectious Disease Institute, The Ohio State University

    • 2017-present: Member, Society for Neuroscience

    • 2013-2018: Member, Integrative Immunology and Behavior Program, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    • 2017: Award, Animal Sciences Graduate Student Fellowship Award, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    • 2016-present: Member, The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign chapter

    • 2016-present: Member, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign chapter

    • 2015- present: Member, PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society (PNIRS)

    • 2012-present: Member, Tri-Beta National Honor Society, Chi Xi Chapter, Ithaca College

    • 2012-2013: Award, Fred L. Emerson Endowed Scholarship, Ithaca College

    • 2012: Scholarship, G. Gonzalez-Gallardo Scholarship, Ithaca College

  • Research

    Antonson's research is anchored within the fields of immunology, microbiology, and developmental and behavioral neuroscience. She uses translational animal models to investigate inflammatory and neurodevelopmental origins of behavioral abnormalities and mental health disorders. Focusing on the prenatal period as a critical developmental window, Dr. Antonson has demonstrated that maternal insults such as viral infection and psychological stress during pregnancy alter neuroimmune signatures in the offspring brain, leading to disrupted behaviors. Her central research focus is investigating exogenous and endogenous signals, deriving from prenatal maternal immune activation, that shift the function of fetal microglial cells, the resident brain macrophage, and subsequently disrupt microglial-mediated neurodevelopment. Her current work investigates downstream intestinal immune and microbial signaling induced by live respiratory influenza virus infection and aims to identify whether these immune- or microbial-derived signals are capable of crossing the maternal-fetal interface during pregnancy, ultimately altering fetal brain development.

    Dr. Antonson’s lab investigates the following questions:

    1. How and which inflammatory signals originate within maternal tissues and how are these signals propagated across the maternal-fetal interface?

    2. How are microglia regulating the early stages of neural network formation and the manifestation of aberrant behaviors?

    3. How might endogenous maternal microbes be communicating, directly or indirectly, with the fetal compartment?

    4. What common endocrine, immune, and neural correlates exist between models of pathogen infection and models of prenatal stress?

    Research interests:

    • Prenatal immune determinants of neurodevelopment and behavior

    Research areas:

    • Molecular and cellular neuroscience

    • Neural & genomic bases of behavior

    • Neural bases of disease and disorders

    • Neural development

  • 2023

    • Antonson A.M. (2023) – Invited Commentary – “Prenatal programming of the brain: the maternal-fetal interface takes center stage”. Brain Behav Immun. doi:
    • Rodriguez-Zas S.L., Southey B.L., Rund L., Antonson A.M., Nowak R.A., Johnson R.W. (2023 - submitted) “Prenatal and postnatal challenges affect the hypothalamic molecular pathways that regulate hormonal levels” PLOS ONE.


    • Caetano-Silva M.E., González-Ricón R.J., Chalen I., Best-Popescu C.A., Antonson A.M., Kelley K.W. (2022) – Viewpoint – “Creating psychoneuroimmunology research networks in Ibero-America.” Brain Behav Immun Health. doi:
    • Otero A.M., Antonson A.M. (2022) – Invited Review – “At the Crux of Maternal Immune Activation: Viruses, Microglia, Microbes, and IL-17A.” Immunol Rev. 00: 1- 19. doi: 10.1111/imr.13125. PubMed PMID: 35979731.


    • Antonson A.M., Kenney A.D., Chen H.J., Corps K.N., Yount J.S., Gur T.L. (2021) “Moderately pathogenic maternal influenza A virus infection disrupts placental integrity but spares the fetal brain.” Brain Behav Immun. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2021.05.004. PubMed PMID: 33989741.
    • Galley J.D., Chen H.J., Antonson A.M., Gur T.L. (2021) “Prenatal stress-induced disruptions in microbial and host tryptophan metabolism and transport” Behav Brain Res. 113471. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2021.113471. PubMed PMID: 34280459.
    • Keever-Keigher M.R., Zhang P., Bolt C.R., Rymut H.E., Antonson A.M., Corbett M.P., Houser A.K., Hernandez A.G., Southey B.R., Rund L.A., Johnson R.W., Rodriguez-Zas S.L. (2021) “Interacting effects of weaning and gestational stressors on the pig amygdala transcriptome” G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. doi: 10.1093/g3journal/jkab113. PubMed PMID: 33856433.


    • Antonson A.M., Evans M.V., Galley J.D., Chen H.J., Rajasekera T.A., Lammers S., Hale V., Bailey M.T., Gur T.L. (2020) “Unique maternal immune and functional microbial profiles during prenatal stress.” Sci Rep. 10(1):20288. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77265-x. PubMed PMID: 33219314.
    • Chen H.J., Antonson A.M., Rajasekera T.A., Patterson J.M., Bailey M.T., Gur T.L. (2020) “Prenatal stress causes intrauterine inflammation and serotonergic dysfunction, and long-term behavioral deficits through microbe- and CCL2-dependent mechanisms”. Transl Psychiatry. 10(1):191. doi: 10.1038/s41398-020-00876-5. PubMed PMID: 32546752.
    • Keever M.R., Zhang P., Bolt C.R., Antonson A.M., Rymut H.E., Caputo M.P., Houser A.K., Hernandez A.G., Southey B.R., Rund L.A., Johnson R.W., Rodriguez-Zas S.L. (2020) “Lasting and sex-dependent impact of maternal immune activation on molecular pathways of the amygdala”. Front Neurosci. 14:774. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2020.00774. PubMed PMID: 32848554.
    • Rymut H.E., Bolt C.R., Corbett M.P., Houser A.K., Antonson A.M., Zimmerman J.D., Villamil M.B., Southey B.R., Rund L.A., Johnson R.W., Rodriguez-Zas S.L. (2020) “Long-lasting impact of maternal immune activation and interaction with a second immune challenge on pig behavior”. Front Vet Sci. 7:561151. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.561151. PubMed PMID: 33330688.


    • Antonson A.M., Lawson M.A., Caputo M.P., Matt S.M., Leyshon B.J., Johnson R.W. (2019) “Maternal viral infection causes global alterations in porcine fetal microglia.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 116(40):20190-20200. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1817014116. PubMed PMID: 31527230.
    • Caputo M.P., Radlowski E.C., Lawson M.A., McDougle D.R., Watson J.E., Matt S.M., Leyshon B.L., Antonson A.M., Das A., Johnson R.W. (2019) “Herring Roe Oil Supplementation Alters Microglial Cell Gene Expression and Reduces Peripheral Inflammation After Immune Activation in a Neonatal Piglet Model”. Brain Behav Immun. 81:455-469. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.06.046. PubMed PMID: 31271868.


    • Antonson A.M., Balakrishnan B., Radlowski E.C., Petr G., Johnson R.W. (2018) “Altered hippocampal morphology in fetal piglets following maternal respiratory viral infection.” Dev Neurosci. 40: 104-119. doi:10.1159/000486850. PubMed PMID: 29539630.


    • Antonson A.M., Radlowski E.C., Lawson M.A., Rytych J.L., Johnson R.W. (2017) “Maternal viral infection during pregnancy elicits anti-social behavior in neonatal piglet offspring independent of postnatal microglial cell activation.” Brain Behav Immun. 59:300-312. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2016.09.019. PubMed PMID: 27650113.