Neuroinflammation and disruption in working memory in aged mice after acute stimulation of the peripheral innate immune system

Brain Behav Immun. 2008 Mar;22(3):301-11. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2007.08.014. Epub 2007 Oct 24.


Acute cognitive disorders are common in elderly patients with peripheral infections but it is not clear why. Here, we injected old and young mice with Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to mimic an acute peripheral infection and separated the hippocampal neuronal cell layers from the surrounding hippocampal tissue by laser capture microdissection and measured mRNA for several inflammatory cytokines (IL-1 beta, IL-6, and TNFalpha) that are known to disrupt cognition. The results showed that old mice had an increased inflammatory response in the hippocampus after LPS compared to younger cohorts. Immunohistochemistry further showed more microglial cells in the hippocampus of old mice compared to young adults, and that more IL-1 beta-positive cells were present in the dentate gyrus and in the CA1, CA2, and CA3 regions of LPS-treated old mice compared to young adults. In a test of cognition that required animals to effectively integrate new information with a preexisting schema to complete a spatial task, we found that hippocampal processing is more easily disrupted in old animals than in younger ones when the peripheral innate immune system is stimulated. Collectively, the results suggest that aging can facilitate neurobehavioral complications associated with peripheral infections probably by allowing the over expression of inflammatory cytokines in brain areas that mediate cognitive processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Animals
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Escherichia coli
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects*
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Lasers
  • Lipopolysaccharides / administration & dosage
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microdissection / methods
  • Microglia / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Swimming


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • RNA, Messenger