Prenatal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure causes reproductive, behavioral and neurochemical injuries in both the mother and pups. Previous investigations by our group showed that prenatal LPS administration (100 microg/kg, i.p.) on gestational day 9.5 impaired the male offspring's social behavior in infancy and adulthood. In the present study, we investigated whether these social behavioral changes were associated with motor activity impairment. Male rat pups treated prenatally with LPS or not were tested for reflexological development and open field general activity during infancy. In adulthood, animals were tested for open field general activity, haloperidol-induced catalepsy and apomorphine-induced stereotypy; striatal dopamine levels and turnover were also measured. Moreover, LPS-treated or untreated control pups were challenged with LPS in adulthood and observed for general activity in the open field. In relation to the control group, the motor behavior of prenatally treated male pups was unaffected at basal levels, both in infancy and in adulthood, but decreased general activity was observed in adulthood after an immune challenge. Also, striatal dopamine and metabolite levels were decreased in adulthood. In conclusion, prenatal LPS exposure disrupted the dopaminergic system involved with motor function, but this neurochemical effect was not accompanied by behavioral impairment, probably due to adaptive plasticity processes. Notwithstanding, behavioral impairment was revealed when animals were challenged with LPS, resulting in enhanced sickness behavior.
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