Brain-reactive antibodies and behavior of autoimmune MRL-lpr mice
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The hypothesis that brain-reactive autoantibodies (BRA) impair behavior was examined in MRL-lpr mice, which develop spontaneous autoimmune disease. Circulating BRA were measured as in vitro serum reactivity to Neuro-2A neuroblastoma cell line, and behavioral competence was assessed in activity monitors, open field, beam walking, and Morris water maze task. Mice with BRA in serum (BRA positive) exhibited slower spontaneous locomotion in a novel environment, shorter grooming episodes, and less exploration of the open field centre when compared to age-matched 7-11-week-old BRA-negative cagemates. Moreover, when initially exposed to the large swimming pool, BRA-positive mice showed increased swimming along the wall, but had no difficulty in learning the water maze task or in traversing a narrow beam. Brain-reactive autoantibodies titre and behavioral measures were not correlated, suggesting that the concentration of serum BRA is not reflective of the magnitude of behavioral impairment. Nevertheless, the present study suggests that the presence of circulating BRA is associated with impaired exploration and/or enhanced emotional reactivity in MRL-lpr mice. It also supports the hypothesis of a pathogenic role of BRA in various mental disorders.
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