Neonatal lipopolysaccharide and adult stress exposure predisposes rats to anxiety-like behaviour and blunted corticosterone responses: implications for the double-hit hypothesis.
ABSTRACT The double-hit hypothesis posits that an early life genetic or environmental insult sets up a neural predisposition to psychopathology, which may emerge in the presence of a subsequent insult, or 'second hit' in later life. The current study assessed the effect of neonatal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure on anxiety-like behaviours in the adult Wistar rat. Rats were administered either LPS (Salmonella enterica, serotype enteritidis, 0.05 mg/kg, i.p.) or saline (equivolume) on days 3 and 5 of life (birth=day 1). In adulthood (85 days), subjects were allocated to either "stress" or "no stress" treatment groups. For the "stress" group, subjects were exposed to a three-day stress protocol consisting of a 30 min period of restraint and isolation. The "no stress" group was left unperturbed but were handled during this period to control for handling effects between adult "stress" and "no stress" conditions. All animals then underwent behavioural testing using standardised tests of anxiety-like behaviour, including either the Hide Box/Open Field, Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) or Acoustic Startle Response (ASR). Time and event measures for restraint and isolation, the Hide Box/Open Field and EPM were recorded using automated tracking software. Startle amplitude and habituation across time was measured in the ASR test. Prior to and following behavioural test sessions, peripheral blood was collected to assess serum corticosterone and ACTH levels. Data analysis indicated that LPS-treated animals exposed to stress in adulthood exhibited increased anxiety-like behaviour across all behavioural tests compared to controls. Sexually dimorphic effects were observed with males exhibiting increased anxiety-related behaviours compared to females (p<.05). Neonatal LPS exposure induced a significant increase in corticosterone compared to controls (p<.05), whereas corticosterone responses to stress in adulthood were associated with a significantly blunted HPA axis response (p<.05). No differences in ACTH were observed. These results lend support to the double-hit hypothesis of anxiety-related behaviour, demonstrating that neonatal immune activation produces an enhanced propensity toward anxiety-related behaviour following stress in adulthood, and that this susceptibility is associated with alterations to HPA axis ontogeny.
Article: Functional Programming of the Autonomic Nervous System by Early Life Immune Exposure: Implications for Anxiety.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Neonatal exposure of rodents to an immune challenge alters a variety of behavioural and physiological parameters in adulthood. In particular, neonatal lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 0.05 mg/kg, i.p.) exposure produces robust increases in anxiety-like behaviour, accompanied by persistent changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning. Altered autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity is an important physiological contributor to the generation of anxiety. Here we examined the long term effects of neonatal LPS exposure on ANS function and the associated changes in neuroendocrine and behavioural indices. ANS function in Wistar rats, neonatally treated with LPS, was assessed via analysis of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in the adrenal glands on postnatal days (PNDs) 50 and 85, and via plethysmographic assessment of adult respiratory rate in response to mild stress (acoustic and light stimuli). Expression of genes implicated in regulation of autonomic and endocrine activity in the relevant brain areas was also examined. Neonatal LPS exposure produced an increase in TH phosphorylation and activity at both PNDs 50 and 85. In adulthood, LPS-treated rats responded with increased respiratory rates to the lower intensities of stimuli, indicative of increased autonomic arousal. These changes were associated with increases in anxiety-like behaviours and HPA axis activity, alongside altered expression of the GABA-A receptor α2 subunit, CRH receptor type 1, CRH binding protein, and glucocorticoid receptor mRNA levels in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and hypothalamus. The current findings suggest that in addition to the commonly reported alterations in HPA axis functioning, neonatal LPS challenge is associated with a persistent change in ANS activity, associated with, and potentially contributing to, the anxiety-like phenotype. The findings of this study reflect the importance of changes in the perinatal microbial environment on the ontogeny of physiological processes.PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(3):e57700. · 4.09 Impact Factor
Article: Sex effects on neurodevelopmental outcomes of innate immune activation during prenatal and neonatal life.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: This article is part of a Special Issue "Neuroendocrine-Immune Axis in Health and Disease." Humans are exposed to potentially harmful agents (bacteria, viruses, toxins) throughout our lifespan; the consequences of such exposure can alter central nervous system development. Exposure to immunogens during pregnancy increases the risk of developing neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. Further, sex hormones, such as estrogen, have strong modulatory effects on immune function and have also been implicated in the development of neuropathologies (e.g., schizophrenia and depression). Similarly, animal studies have demonstrated that immunogen exposure in utero or during the neonatal period, at a time when the brain is undergoing maturation, can induce changes in learning and memory, as well as dopamine-mediated behaviors in a sex-specific manner. Literature that covers the effects of immunogens on innate immune activation and ultimately the development of the adult brain and behavior is riddled with contradictory findings, and the addition of sex as a factor only adds to the complexity. This review provides evidence that innate immune activation during critical periods of development may have effects on the adult brain in a sex-specific manner. Issues regarding sex bias in research as well as variability in animal models of immune function are discussed.Hormones and Behavior 04/2012; 62(3):228-36. · 3.87 Impact Factor
Article: Effect of Maternal Probiotic Intervention on HPA Axis, Immunity and Gut Microbiota in a Rat Model of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: To examine whether maternal probiotic intervention influences the alterations in the brain-immune-gut axis induced by neonatal maternal separation (MS) and/or restraint stress in adulthood (AS) in Wistar rats. Dams had free access to drinking water supplemented with Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis BB-12® (3×10(9) CFU/mL) and Propionibacterium jensenii 702 (8.0×10(8) CFU/mL) from 10 days before conception until postnatal day (PND) 22 (weaning day), or to control ad lib water. Offspring were subjected to MS from PND 2 to 14 or left undisturbed. From PND 83 to 85, animals underwent 30 min/day AS, or were left undisturbed as controls. On PND 24 and 86, blood samples were collected for corticosterone, ACTH and IgA measurement. Colonic contents were analysed for the composition of microflora and luminal IgA levels. Exposure to MS significantly increased ACTH levels and neonatal fecal counts of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, E. coli, enterococci and clostridia, but reduced plasma IgA levels compared with non-MS animals. Animals exposed to AS exhibited significantly increased ACTH and corticosterone levels, decreased aerobic bacteria and bifidobacteria, and increased Bacteroides and E. coli counts compared to non-AS animals. MS coupled with AS induced significantly decreased anaerobes and clostridia compared with the non-stress adult controls. Maternal probiotic intervention significantly increased neonatal corticosterone levels which persisted until at least week 12 in females only, and also resulted in elevated adult ACTH levels and altered neonatal microflora comparable to that of MS. However, it improved plasma IgA responses, increased enterococci and clostridia in MS adults, increased luminal IgA levels, and restored anaerobes, bifidobacteria and E. coli to normal in adults. Maternal probiotic intervention induced activation of neonatal stress pathways and an imbalance in gut microflora. Importantly however, it improved the immune environment of stressed animals and protected, in part, against stress-induced disturbances in adult gut microflora.PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(10):e46051. · 4.09 Impact Factor