Proinflammatory Activity and the Sensitization of Depressive-Like Behavior during Maternal Separation

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When guinea pig pups are isolated for a few hours in a novel environment, they exhibit a distinctive passive behavioral response that appears to be mediated by proinflammatory activity. Recently, we observed that pups separated on two consecutive days show an enhanced (sensitized) passive response on the second day. In Experiment 1, pups receiving intracerebroventricular infusion of 50 ng of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 prior to a first separation failed to show a sensitized behavioral response to separation the next day. In Experiment 2, pups separated on Days 1 and 2, or just 2, showed an increase in passive responding during separation on Day 5. Pups injected with the bacterial antigen lipopolysacchride (LPS; 75 μg/kg body weight, intraperitoneal) prior to separation on Day 1 showed an increase in passive behavior several days later not shown by pups injected with saline prior to Day 1 separation. However, injection of LPS without separation on the first day did not enhance responding during an initial separation on the second day. These results suggest that immune activation is necessary, but not sufficient, to account for the sensitization of passive behavior of isolated guinea pig pups the following day, that boosting proinflammatory activity during an initial separation may promote sensitization several days later, and that the sensitized response persists for at least several days.