Upregulation of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) by proinflammatory cytokines has been implicated as a biological mediator of inflammation-related mood disorders. Clinical reports on this neuro-immune interaction remain correlative, while mechanism-centered preclinical experiments have focused on a relatively narrow, and somewhat controversial, survey of depression-like behaviors that include the forced swim and tail suspension tests. Here, we sought to determine whether peripheral immune challenge with Escherichia coli, lipopolysaccharides (LPS) precipitates the development of translationally relevant depression-like behaviors and to investigate the role of IDO in mediating these LPS-induced behaviors. Intraperitoneal injection of C57BL/6J mice with LPS resulted in a robust, but transient, reduction in exploratory locomotor activity (eLMA) that returned to near baseline levels by 24h. Sucrose preference, a preclinical correlate of anhedonia, was diminished by more than 20% in LPS-treated compared to saline-treated control mice, and LPS induced a significant increase in anxiety-like behavior at 24h that was independent eLMA. Pretreatment of mice with an IDO inhibitor, 1-methyltryptophan (1MT), ablated the anxiogenic effects of LPS, while having no impact on sickness associated changes in body weight or eLMA. Additionally, 1MT pretreatment attenuated the LPS-induced reduction in sucrose preference, which was also confirmed in IDO-1 null mice. Interestingly, acute systemic administration of l-kynurenine, the enzymatic product of IDO, precipitated an anhedonic and anxiogenic effect in naïve mice without effect on eLMA. In a preclinical model, these data implicate IDO as a pivotal mediator of LPS-induced depression- and anxiety-like behavior.
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