Neonatal endotoxin exposure alters the development of social behavior and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in selectively bred mice

Douglas A. Granger, Kathryn E. Hood, Sandra C. Ikeda, Cheryl L. Reed, Michelle L. Block

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


Developmental differences in the biobehavioral consequences of immune activation in early life were investigated in two lines of mice selectively bred for high and low levels of inter-male aggressive behavior. At age 5 or 6 days, male mice were administered saline or 0.05 mg/kg gram-negative bacterial endotoxin (Escherichia coli, LPS, ip). There was a transient endotoxin-induced reduction in the growth rate of the neonates in the high-aggressive line. At age 45-50 days, the animals' behaviors were assessed in a dyadic task. Hypothalami and sera were harvested 20 min later. Rates of socially reactive behaviors to conspecific contact (i.e., kick, startle) were increased in the endotoxin-treated groups from both lines. For the high-aggressive line only, endotoxin treatment increased behavioral immobility, decreased attack frequency, and decreased levels of hypothalamic corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF). The effects of endotoxin exposure in early life on socially reactive behaviors in later life were associated with endotoxin-induced individual differences in CRF levels in the high-aggressive line but not the low-aggressive line. The findings demonstrate long term social developmental consequences of immune activation during the neonatal period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-259
Number of pages11
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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