Prolonged depression-like behavior caused by immune challenge: influence of mouse strain and social environment.

Publication from Health

Painsipp E., Köfer M., Sinner F., Holzer P.

Public Library of Sciene One: e20719., 2011


Immune challenge by bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) causes short-term behavioral changes indicative of depression. The present study sought to explore whether LPS is able to induce long-term changes in depression-related behavior and whether such an effect depends on mouse strain and social context. LPS (0.83 mg/kg) or vehicle was administered intraperitoneally to female CD1 and C57BL/6 mice that were housed singly or in groups of 4. Depression-like behavior was assessed with the forced swim test (FST) 1 and 28 days post-treatment. Group-housed CD1 mice exhibited depression-like behavior 1 day post-LPS, an effect that leveled off during the subsequent 28 days, while the behavior of singly housed CD1 mice was little affected. In contrast, singly housed C57BL/6 mice responded to LPS with an increase in depression-like behavior that was maintained for 4 weeks post-treatment and confirmed by the sucrose preference test. Group-housed C57BL/6 mice likewise displayed an increased depression-like behavior 4 weeks post-treatment. The behavioral changes induced by LPS in C57BL/6 mice were associated with a particularly pronounced rise of interleukin-6 in blood plasma within 1 day post-treatment and with changes in the dynamics of the corticosterone response to the FST. The current data demonstrate that immune challenge with LPS is able to induce prolonged depression-like behavior, an effect that depends on genetic background (strain). The discovery of an experimental model of long-term depression-like behavior after acute immune challenge is of relevance to the analysis of the epigenetic and pathophysiologic mechanisms of immune system-related affective disorders.