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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 Jul;38(7):1047-57. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.10.010. Epub 2012 Nov 10.

Sepsis-induced morbidity in mice: effects on body temperature, body weight, cage activity, social behavior and cytokines in brain.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


Infection negatively impacts mental health, as evidenced by the lethargy, malaise, and cognitive deficits experienced during illness. These changes in central nervous system processes, collectively termed sickness behavior, have been shown in animal models to be mediated primarily by the actions of cytokines in brain. Most studies of sickness behavior to date have used bolus injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or selective administration of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) or IL-6 as the immune challenge. Such models, although useful for determining mechanisms responsible for acute changes in physiology and behavior, do not adequately represent the more complex effects on central nervous system (CNS) processes of a true infection with replicating pathogens. In the present study, we used the cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) model to quantify sepsis-induced alterations in several facets of physiology and behavior of mice. We determined the impact of sepsis on cage activity, body temperature, food and water consumption and body weights of mice. Because cytokines are critical mediators of changes in behavior and temperature regulation during immune challenge, we also quantified sepsis-induced alterations in cytokine mRNA and protein in brain during the acute period of sepsis onset. We now report that cage activity and temperature regulation in mice that survive are altered for up to 23 days after sepsis induction. Food and water consumption are transiently reduced, and body weight is lost during sepsis. Furthermore, sepsis decreases social interactions for 24-48 h. Finally, mRNA and protein for IL-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) are upregulated in the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and brain stem during sepsis onset, from 6h to 72 h post sepsis induction. Collectively, these data indicate that sepsis not only acutely alters physiology, behavior and cytokine profiles in brain, but that some brain functions are impaired for long periods in animals that survive.

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