Effect of sustained postnatal systemic inflammation on hippocampal volume and function in mice.

Document Type


Publication Date



Molecular Medicine, MMCRI

Journal Title

Pediatric research

MeSH Headings

Animals, Animals, Newborn, Behavior, Animal, Cognition, Hippocampus, Inflammation, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Mice, Rotarod Performance Test


BACKGROUND: Premature infants are at risk for persistent neurodevelopmental impairment. Children born preterm often exhibit reduced hippocampal volumes that correlate with deficits in working memory. Perinatal inflammation is associated with preterm birth and brain abnormalities. Here we examine the effects of postnatal systemic inflammation on the developing hippocampus in mice.

METHODS: Pups received daily intraperitoneal injections of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or saline between days 3 and 13. Ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and microscopic analysis of brain tissue was performed on day 14. Behavioral testing was conducted at 8-9 wk of age.

RESULTS: MR and microscopic analysis revealed a 15-20% reduction in hippocampal volume in LPS-treated mice compared with controls. Behavioral testing revealed deficits in hippocampal-related tasks in LPS-treated animals. Adult mice exposed to LPS during the postnatal period were unable to select a novel environment when re-placed within a 1-min delay, were less able to remember a familiar object after a 1-h delay, and had impaired retention of associative fear learning after 24 h.

CONCLUSION: Systemic inflammation sustained during the postnatal period contributes to reduced hippocampal volume and deficits in hippocampus-dependent working memory. These findings support the novel and emerging concept that sustained systemic inflammation contributes to neurodevelopmental impairment among preterm infants.



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