The amygdala, a group of nuclei located in the medial temporal lobe, is a key limbic structure involved in mood regulation, associative learning, and modulation of cognitive functions. Functional neuroanatomical studies suggest that this brain region plays also an important role in the central integration of afferent signals from the peripheral immune system. In the present study, intracerebral electroencephalography and microdialysis were employed to investigate the electrophysiological and neurochemical consequences of systemic immune activation in the amygdala of freely moving rats. Intraperitoneal administration of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (100 μg/kg) induced with a latency of about 2 h a significant increase in amygdaloid neuronal activity and a substantial rise in extracellular noradrenaline levels. Activated neurons in the amygdaloid complex, identified by c-Fos immunohistochemistry, were mainly located in the central nucleus and, to a lesser extent, in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala. Gene expression analysis in micropunches of the amygdala revealed that endotoxin administration induced a strong time-dependent increase in IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α mRNA levels indicating that these cytokines are de novo synthesized in the amygdala in response to peripheral immune activation. The changes in amygdaloid activity were timely related to an increase in anxiety-like behavior and decreased locomotor activity and exploration in the open-field. Taken together, these data give novel insights into different features of the acute amygdaloid response during experimental inflammation and provides further evidence that the amygdala integrates immune-derived information to coordinate behavioral and autonomic responses.
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