Simulated systemic recurrent Mycoplasma infection in rats induces recurrent sickness responses without residual impairment in spatial learning and memory
Harvey, Brian H.
Harden, Lois M.
Laburn, Helen P.
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In spite of their prevalence and importance, recurrent acute infections seldom have been investigated in the laboratory. We set out to measure fever and sickness behaviour in simulated recurrent Mycoplasma infection; Mycoplasma is a common clinical cause of recurrent acute infection. Male Sprague–Dawley rats had radiotransponders implanted to measure abdominal temperature and cage activity. After recovery, rats received three intraperitoneal (I.P.) injections, 10 days apart, of either fibroblast-stimulating lipopeptide-1 (FLS-1), a pyrogenic moiety of Mycoplasma salivarium, at a dose of 500 μg.kg−1 in 1 ml.kg−1 phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), or vehicle (PBS, 1 ml.kg−1). Body mass and food intake were measured daily. For measurement of learning and memory, training in a Morris Water Maze commenced 10 days after the last of the three successive injections and continued daily for 4 days. Spatial memory was assessed on the following day. Hippocampal tissue of rats was collected on the day of the last exposure to the maze. Recurrent FSL-1 administration induced recurrent fevers (~1 °C) for about 9 h, recurrent lethargy (~40–60%) for 1 day, recurrent anorexia (~16–30%) for 1 day, and recurrent reductions in the rate of mass gain (~112%) for 1 day, but did not induce persistent stunting. Recurrent FSL-1 administration did not result in tolerance to fever, lethargy or anorexia. There was no residual histological damage to the hippocampus and no residual detrimental effect in learning or memory in rats. Though we cannot extrapolate our results directly to humans, clinical recurrent acute Mycoplasma infection may not impose a high risk of stunting or impaired spatial learning and memory.