Behavioral and systemic consequences of long-term inflammatory challenge

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Inflammatory reactions are involved in a diversity of diseases, including major depressive disorder. Cytokines act as intercellular signaling molecules and mediators of inflammation between the periphery and the brain. Within the brain, evidence from animal studies of acute inflammation has shown that elevated cytokine levels are linked to behavioral responses of sickness and depression-like behavior. Although chronic inflammation is more translational to human depression than acute studies, little is known on central cytokine expression and associated behavioral responses following chronic immune challenges. The present study assessed behavioral changes and a selection of cytokines in the brain and in the blood in rats randomized to receive a single or 8week administration with either lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 600μg/kg, i.p.) or saline. Acute and long-term LPS treatments caused similar sickness and depression-like behavior. Chronic LPS administration did not have an effect on blood cytokine levels, indicating endotoxin tolerance, whereas increased fasting blood glucose was observed, indicating insulin resistance, a metabolic consequence of chronic inflammation. While a single LPS injection produced a generalized cytokine response in the brain, long-term LPS administration produced a specific central cytokine response with increased interleukin (IL)-1β and interferon (IFN)-γ. These cytokines can explain the behavioral changes observed, and could indicate microglia activation, although future studies are needed to uncover this assumption. Taken together, although the behavioral outcome was similar between acute and chronic LPS administration, the central cytokine response was distinct. As the long-term LPS paradigm also posed a metabolic demand, this setting may reflect a more translational insight into inflammatory reactions in human depression, and could prove useful for assessing cytokine down-stream effects and experimental antidepressant drug products.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroimmunology
Pages (from-to)40-6
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2015

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