Interleukin-1β induces anorexia but not spatial learning and memory deficits in the rat

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Sickness behaviors are a set of adaptive responses to infection that include lethargy, anorexia, and, of direct relevance to this work, learning and memory impairments. The proinflammatory cytokine, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) has been proposed as the primary peripheral mediator of these sickness behaviors, though few studies have investigated the effects of peripheral IL-1β on learning and memory. We used three different versions of the Morris water task (Morris water task), a spatial learning and memory task, to separately assess the effects of peripheral IL-1β on acquisition, consolidation, and retention of spatial location information. Using a dose that induced anorexia, assessed as a significant reduction in body weight, we observed no performance impairments in the IL-1β-treated rats across the different versions of the task, suggesting that peripheral IL-1β alone is insufficient to induce spatial learning and memory impairments in the rat. The observed dissociation of anorexia and cognitive dysfunction suggests that, either spatial learning and memory are not principal components of the sickness response, or cognitive dysfunction requires different or additional peripheral mediator(s).

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