Activation of the immune system in response to either infection or lipopolysaccharide (LPS) produces neurophysiological, neuroendocrine and behavioral changes. Some of the physiological consequences of LPS are mediated by endogenous opioid peptides. The following studies were designed to characterize the effects of LPS in several behavioral paradigms, and to determine the role of opioids in mediating these effects. The effects of LPS on locomotor and self-care activity were assessed in the open field test. Rats were injected with either saline or a dose of LPS (25, 50, 100, or 1000 μg/kg). 4 h later, the animals were placed in an open field and the numbers of line crossings, rearings and grooming episodes were counted. LPS significantly suppressed the three open field behaviors in a dose-related manner. The effect of LPS on sensitivity to pain was determined using the hot-plate and tail-flick tests. Administration of LPS (200 μg/kg) increased pain sensitivity in the hot plate test 30 min after drug administration, but produced a significant analgesic response 4 h after drug administration in both tests. Further characterization of LPS-induced analgesia demonstrated that it began about 2 h after and disappeared 30 h after the administration of LPS. Administration of naltrexone completely blocked the analgesic effects of LPS 4 h after its administration, but had no effect on LPS-induced suppression of activity in the open field. The effect of LPS on body temperature was biphasic, producing hypothermia at 2 h and hyperthermia at 8-30 h after its administration. Naltrexone had no effect on the body temperature changes induced by LPS. These results suggest that endogenous opioids mediate the analgesic effects of LPS, but they are involved neither in mediating LPS-induced suppression of locomotor and self care behaviors nor in alterations of body temperature.
- Open field
- Sickness behavior