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Brain Behav Immun. 2014 Jan;35:107-24. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2013.09.007. Epub 2013 Sep 21.

A novel automated test battery reveals enduring behavioural alterations and cognitive impairments in survivors of murine pneumococcal meningitis.

Author information

1
Molecular Immunopathology Unit, Bosch Institute and School of Medical Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.
2
School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.
3
Molecular Immunopathology Unit, Bosch Institute and School of Medical Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia. Electronic address: Nicholas.hunt@sydney.edu.au.

Abstract

Pneumococcal meningitis, caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae infection, is a major form of lethal bacterial meningitis. Survivors are predisposed to developing lifelong disabling sequelae, including cognitive impairment, psychological problems and motor deficits. In our experimental model, ventricular inoculation of 10(5) colony-forming units of S. pneumoniae type 3 caused 90% of mice to develop life-threatening meningitis within 48 h. Antibiotic treatment with ceftriaxone 20 h post infection reduced the incidence of severe meningitis to <10%. At the time of treatment, upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines was detected, including interleukin-1β, interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor. We evaluated the long-term behavioural and cognitive sequelae in control mice and those surviving meningitis using an automated system (the IntelliCage) in which mice perform a range of behavioural and spatial tasks to obtain water rewards from conditioning units in their home cage. Surviving mice showed a number of altered behaviours relative to controls, including (i) hypoexploration when first exposed to the IntelliCage, (ii) altered activity patterns (fewer visits to conditioning stations during the light phase and more in the dark phase), (iii) avoidance of light (a constant or flashing LED stimulus), (iv) impaired spatial learning (a complex patrolling task), and (v) impaired discrimination reversal learning. Overall these results suggest photophobia and weakened learning ability in post-meningitic mice, particularly on tasks engaging hippocampal and prefrontal neural substrates. This study also demonstrates a standardised and comprehensive battery of tests that can be readily used to investigate neurological sequelae in undisturbed mice residing in a complex home cage environment.

KEYWORDS:

Behavioural alterations; Central nervous system; Cognitive deficits; IntelliCage; Neuroinflammation; Neurological disease; Neurological sequelae; Pneumococcal meningitis

PMID:
24060586
DOI:
10.1016/j.bbi.2013.09.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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