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Behav Brain Res. 2008 Jun 26;190(1):156-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.02.021. Epub 2008 Feb 20.

Immune activation during mid-gestation disrupts sensorimotor gating in rat offspring.

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Psychology Department, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Maternal immune activation (MIA) is a newly developed animal model of schizophrenia. It has recently been reported that when MIA is induced with the cytokine inducer polyinosinic-polycytidilic acid (poly I:C) rats do not show deficits in prepulse inhibition (PPI), a test that is often considered a validity benchmark. The aim of the current experiment was to determine whether doses of poly I:C that have previously been shown to induce the behavioural features of schizophrenia can disrupt PPI in rats. Pregnant rat dams were given a single injection of poly I:C (4.0 mg/kg) or a saline injection equivalent on gestational day 15. Acoustic startle reactivity, habituation of the startle response and PPI were assessed in juvenile (34-35 day) and adult (>56 day) offspring. Prenatal immune activation did not alter startle reactivity on startle-only or prepulse-only trials. Furthermore, there was no effect of MIA on habituation of the startle response. MIA does however disrupt PPI, as PPI was reduced significantly in adult MIA offspring, and a trend was observed in the juvenile animals. Our finding that prenatal poly I:C can disrupt PPI in MIA rats further validates this procedure as an animal model.

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