Behavioral deficits are accompanied by immunological and neurochemical changes in a mouse model for neuropsychiatric lupus (NP-SLE)

Yan Li, Amanda R. Eskelund, Hua Zhou, David P. Budac, Connie Sánchez, Maria Gulinello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Neuropsychiatric symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (NP-SLE) have been understudied compared to end-organ failure and peripheral pathology. Neuropsychiatric symptoms, particularly affective and cognitive indications, may be among the earliest manifestations of SLE. Among the potential pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for NP-SLE are increased peripheral pro-inflammatory cytokines, subsequent induction of indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and activation of the kynurenine pathway. In the MRL/MpJ-Faslpr (MRL/lpr) murine model of lupus, depression-like behavior and cognitive dysfunction is evident before significant levels of autoantibody titers and nephritis are present. We examined the behavioral profile of MRL/lpr mice and their congenic controls, a comprehensive plasma cytokine and chemokine profile, and brain levels of serotonin and kynurenine pathway metabolites. Consistent with previous studies, MRL/lpr mice had increased depression-like behavior and visuospatial memory impairment. Plasma levels of different inflammatory molecules (Haptoglobin, interleukin 10 (IL-10), interferon γ-inducible protein 10 (IP-10/CXCL10), lymphotactin, macrophage inhibitory protein 3β (MIP-3β/CCL19), monocyte chemotactic protein 1, 3 and 5 (MCP-1/CCL2, MCP-3/CCL7, MCP-5/CCL12), vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), lymphotactin and interferon γ (IFN-γ)) were increased in MRL/lpr mice. In cortex and hippocampus, MRL/lpr mice had increased levels of kynurenine pathway metabolites (kynurenine, 3-hydroxykynurenine, 3-hydroxynthranilic acid and quinolinic acid). Therefore, our study suggests that increased cytokine expression may be critical in the regulation subtle aspects of brain function in NP-SLE via induction of IDO and tryptophan/kynurenine metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15150-15171
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


  • 3-dioxygenase (IDO)
  • Anhedonia
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Forced swim test
  • Indoleamine-2
  • Kynurenine
  • Lupus
  • MRL/lpr
  • Novel object placement test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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