Immunity and ultrasonic vocalization in rodents

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Abstract

Ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) serve important communicative functions in rodents. Different types of USVs can be triggered in the sender, for example, by maternal separation, social interactions, or exposure to predators, and they evoke affiliative or alarming behaviors in recipients. This review focusses on studies evaluating possible links between immunity and USVs. Most studies have been performed in a murine model of maternal immune activation and subsequent evaluation of effects in the offspring. This model has received large attention in recent years because it mimics behavioral abnormalities observed in certain human neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder. Although there is still some controversy, the results indicate that stimulation of the immune system of mice and rats during pregnancy affects ultrasonic calling in pups. Few studies are available on immunization during adulthood and USVs. In most cases, immune stimulation led to disease, complicating conclusions about a possible direct link between vocalization and immunity. Although much work is still needed, this is certainly a rather new and promising aspect of interactions between the immune system and behavior.

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