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Brain Behav Immun. 2008 Jan;22(1):74-9. Epub 2007 Jul 24.

Lipopolysaccharide does not affect acoustic startle reflex in mice.

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Department of Animal Behavior, Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Polish Academy of Sciences, Jastrzebiec, Poland.


Bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide; LPS) evokes in rodents an adaptive sickness behavior. It also produces changes in stress hormones secretion and activity of brain serotonergic and noradrenergic systems that have been implicated in stress responses, fear, and anxiety. Acoustic startle reflex (ASR) is regarded as a protective behavioral response that is enhanced in threatening situations or following an aversive event, and it can be modulated by physiological and emotional state of an animal. Effects of intraperitoneal injections of LPS on ASR, prepulse inhibition (PPI), locomotor activity in open field, and blood plasma corticosterone concentration were studied in lines of mice that display high (HA line) or low (LA line) swim stress-induced analgesia and also differ in emotional behaviors, including the magnitude of ASR. In both lines LPS produced robust sickness behavior, as evidenced by a decrease in locomotion and body weight, and an increase in corticosterone concentration. However, in neither line LPS injections affected responses to acoustic stimuli as assessed by the ASR and PPI magnitudes. The findings suggest that in sickness behavior induced by LPS the protective responses to salient environmental stimuli are not impaired. The significance of this finding for the concept of sickness behavior is discussed.

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