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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jan;300(1):E11-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00516.2010. Epub 2010 Nov 2.

Neonatal programming of innate immune function.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


The early life environment can be crucial in influencing the development of an animal's long-term physiology. There is now much evidence to suggest that perinatal challenges to an animal's immune system will result in changes in adult rat behavior, physiology, and molecular pathways following a single inflammatory event during development caused by the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In particular, it is now apparent that neonatal LPS administration can influence the adult neuroimmune response to a second LPS challenge through hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis modifications, some of which are caused by alterations in peripheral prostaglandin synthesis. These pronounced changes are accompanied by a variety of alterations in a number of disparate aspects of endocrine physiology, with significant implications for the health and well-being of the adult animal. In this review, we discuss the newly elucidated mechanisms by which neonatal immune challenge can permanently alter an animal's endocrine and metabolic physiology and the implications this has for various disease states.

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