Maternal Immune Activation during Pregnancy Alters the Behavior Profile of Female Offspring of Sprague Dawley Rats
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Sex differences are documented in psychiatric and neurological disorders, yet most preclinical animal research has been conducted in males only. There is a need to better understand of the nature of sex differences in brain disease in order to meet the needs of psychiatric patients. We present the behavior profile of adult female offspring produced using a maternal immune activation (MIA) model where pregnant rats receive an immune stimulant and the offspring typically show various abnormalities consistent with psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and autism. The results in female offspring were compared to a previously published cohort of their male siblings (Lins et al., 2018). We examined prepulse inhibition (PPI), sociability, MK-801-induced locomotor activity, crossmodal object recognition (CMOR), and oddity discrimination; behaviors relevant to the positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. No between-treatment differences in PPI or locomotor activity were noted. Tactile memory was observed in the control and treated female offspring, visual recognition memory was deficient in the polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (polyI:C) offspring only, and both groups lacked crossmodal recognition. PolyI:C offspring were impaired in oddity preference and had reduced preference for a stranger conspecific in a sociability assay. Systemic maternal CXCL1, IL-6, and TNF-a levels 3 h after polyI:C treatment were determined, but no relationship was found between these cytokines and the behavior seen in the adult female offspring. Overall, female offspring of polyI:C-treated dams display an array of behavior abnormalities relevant to psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia similar to those previously reported in male rats.
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