Behavioral Effects of Infection with IL-6 Adenovector
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The onset of autoimmunity in lupus-prone mice is accompanied by a constellation of behavioral deficits, termed Autoimmunity-Associated Behavioral Syndrome (AABS). In particular, a spontaneous increase in serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels in five-week old MRL-lpr mice coincides temporally with blunted responsiveness to sucrose and excessive immobility in the forced swim test. These relationships, along with evidence that sucrose intake drops after systemic IL-6 overexpression is induced in healthy mice, have led to the hypothesis that sustained elevation in serum IL-6 also induces other aspects of AABS. This hypothesis is tested by comparing the behavioral profiles of healthy mice infected with Ad5mIL6 adenovirus (2 x 10(8) pfu of virus/mouse i.p.) with those of animals infected with control Ad5 virus. This methodology was used to achieve high circulating levels of IL-6, to overcome the problem of its short half-life, and to avoid the stressful effects of repeated injections. The Ad5mIL6 infection (known to induce excessive IL-6 levels over five days) transiently reduced food, water, and sucrose intake, as well as rectal temperature in MRL +/+ and AKR/J mice. Although the level of locomotor activity did not decline, Ad5mIL6-infected AKR/J mice demonstrated less novel object exploration. Performance in the step-down, plus-maze, and spontaneous alternation tests were disturbed to various degrees in all infected animals. The present results suggest that prolonged exposure to circulating IL-6 primarily impairs ingestive behavior, likely reflecting enhanced catabolism. The inability of circulating IL-6 to alter other aspects of behavior supports the hypothesis that multiple immuno-neuroendocrine mechanisms contribute to the pathogenesis of AABS.
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