Journal article

Electrical activity in rat cortico-limbic structures after single or repeated administration of lipopolysaccharide or staphylococcal enterotoxin B

Immune-to-brain communication is essential for an individual to aptly respond to challenging internal and external environments. However, the specificity by which the central nervous system detects or 'senses' peripheral immune challenges is still poorly understood. In contrast to post-mortem c-Fos mapping, we recorded neural activity in vivo in two specific cortico-limbic regions relevant for processing visceral inputs and associating it with other sensory signalling, the amygdala (Am) and the insular cortex (IC). Adult rats were implanted with deep-brain monopolar electrodes and electrical activity was monitored unilaterally before and after administration of two different immunogens, the T-cell-independent antigen lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or the T-cell-dependent antigen staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). In addition, the neural activity of the same individuals was analysed after single as well as repeated antigen administration, the latter inducing attenuation of the immune response. Body temperature and circulating cytokine levels confirmed the biological activity of the antigens and the success of immunization and desensitization protocols. More importantly, the present data demonstrate that neural activity of the Am and IC is not only specific for the type of immune challenge (LPS versus SEB) but seems to be also sensitive to the different immune state (naive versus desensitization). This indicates that the forebrain expresses specific patterns of electrical activity related to the type of peripheral immune activation as well as to the intensity of the stimulation, substantiating associative learning paradigms employing antigens as unconditioned stimuli. Overall, our data support the view of an intensive immune-to-brain communication, which may have evolved to achieve the complex energetic balance necessary for mounting effective immunity and improved individual adaptability by cognitive functions.


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