Objective: This study investigated the relationship between maternal sickness behavior during pregnancy and offspring development and behavior.
Methods: Pregnant Wistar rats were administered with lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 100 microg/kg, i.p.) on gestation day (GD) 9.5. Dams' sickness behavior was analyzed, and at birth, offspring number and weight were evaluated. Male offspring was evaluated through physical development, play behavior, adult social interaction, plus maze studies and morphological analysis of the brain.
Results: Results, with respect to the control group, showed that: (1) LPS decreased general activity, food intake, and weight gain in dams, but no pyrexia was observed following treatment; (2) LPS reduced litter size, but no alterations in physical development were observed; (3) LPS reduced play behavior parameters in baby rats; (4) LPS decreased adult social interaction; (5) no alterations were observed between groups on plus maze studies; (6) no differences were observed between groups on morphological analyses of the brain.
Conclusion: These data reveal that LPS administered on GD 9.5 impaired male offspring's social behavior in infancy and adulthood. These results may be related to an alteration in motivational states or/and increased anxiety.