3 years ago

Expression of cerebral serotonin related to anxiety-like behaviors in C57BL/6 offspring induced by repeated subcutaneous prenatal exposure to low-dose lipopolysaccharide

Jong-Kang Liu, Pei-Tan Hsueh, Chiu-Lin Liu, Ya-Lei Chen, Hsuan-Han Wang, Wei-Fen Ni

by Pei-Tan Hsueh, Hsuan-Han Wang, Chiu-Lin Liu, Wei-Fen Ni, Ya-Lei Chen, Jong-Kang Liu

Prenatal exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which likely occurs due to infection or contact with environmental allergens during pregnancy, is a proposed risk factor that induces anxiety- and autism spectrum disorder-like behaviors in offspring. However, the molecular and behavioral changes in offspring after maternal immune activation have not been completely identified. We hypothesized that a subcutaneous injection of LPS in a pregnant mouse would induce changes in cerebral serotonin (5-HT) in parallel to the appearance of anxiety-like behaviors in the dam’s offspring. After LPS injections (total, 100 μg/Kg), the time spent in the central region during the open field test and the number of times that the mice moved between the light and dark boxes and between the open and closed arms on the elevated plus maze test revealed anxiety-like behaviors in offspring at 5, 6 and 9 weeks of age. The mRNA expression levels of tph2 (5-HT synthesizing enzyme) and slc6a4 (5-HT transporter) were down-regulated in both adolescent (5 weeks of age) and adult (8 weeks of age) brains. Immunohistochemistry revealed that the numbers and sizes of tph2-expressing cells were notably decreased in the raphe nuclei of the midbrain of adults. Moreover, compared with controls (phosphate-buffered saline-treated offspring), the cerebral 5-HT concentration at adolescence and adulthood in LPS-induced offspring was significantly decreased. We concluded that maternal immune activation induced by exposure to a low dose of LPS decreased cerebral 5-HT levels in parallel to the down-regulation of the tph2 and slc6a4 genes and in conjunction with anxiety-like behaviors in offspring.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179970

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