Several psychiatric conditions are affected by neuroinflammation and neuroimmune activation. The transcription factor nuclear factor kappa light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NFkB) plays a major role in inflammation and innate immunity. The neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R) is the primary endogenous target of the neuroactive peptide substance P, and some data suggests that NK1R stimulation may influence NFkB activity. Both NK1R and NFkB have been shown to play a functional role in complex behaviors including stress responsivity, depression, and addiction. In this study, we test whether NFkB activity in the brain (stimulated by lipopolysaccharide administration) is dependent upon the NK1R.
Adult male Wistar rats were treated systemically with the NK1R antagonist L822429 followed by administration of systemic lipopolysaccharide (LPS, a strong activator of NFkB). Hippocampal extracts were used to assess expression of proinflammatory cytokines and NFkB-DNA-binding potential. For behavioral studies, rats were trained to consume 1% (w/v) sucrose solution in a continuous access two-bottle choice model. After establishment of baseline, animals were treated with L822429 and LPS and sucrose preference was measured 12 h post-treatment.
Systemic LPS treatment causes a significant increase in proinflammatory cytokine expression and NFkB-DNA-binding activity within the hippocampus. These increases are attenuated by systemic pretreatment with the NK1R antagonist L822429. Systemic LPS treatment also led to the development of anhedonic-like behavior, evidenced by decreased sucrose intake in the sucrose preference test. This behavior was significantly attenuated by systemic pretreatment with the NK1R antagonist L822429.
Systemic LPS treatment induced significant increases in NFkB activity, evidenced by increased NFkB-DNA binding and by increased proinflammatory cytokine expression in the hippocampus. LPS also induced anhedonic-like behavior. Both the molecular and behavioral effects of LPS treatment were significantly attenuated by systemic NK1R antagonism, suggesting that NK1R stimulation lies upstream of NFkB activation following systemic LPS administration and is at least in part responsible for NFkB activation.