Brain, behavior, and immunity

Trypanosoma cruzi-induced depressive-like behavior is independent of meningoencephalitis but responsive to parasiticide and TNF-targeted therapeutic interventions.

PMID 22841695


Inflammatory cytokines and microbe-borne immunostimulators have emerged as triggers of depressive behavior. Behavioral alterations affect patients chronically infected by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. We have previously shown that C3H/He mice present acute phase-restricted meningoencephalitis with persistent central nervous system (CNS) parasitism, whereas C57BL/6 mice are resistant to T. cruzi-induced CNS inflammation. In the present study, we investigated whether depression is a long-term consequence of acute CNS inflammation and a contribution of the parasite strain that infects the host. C3H/He and C57BL/6 mice were infected with the Colombian (type I) and Y (type II) T. cruzi strains. Forced-swim and tail-suspension tests were used to assess depressive-like behavior. Independent of the mouse lineage, the Colombian-infected mice showed significant increases in immobility times during the acute and chronic phases of infection. Therefore, T. cruzi-induced depression is independent of active or prior CNS inflammation. Furthermore, chronic depressive-like behavior was triggered only by the type I Colombian T. cruzi strain. Acute and chronic T. cruzi infection increased indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) expression in the CNS. Treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine abrogated the T. cruzi-induced depressive-like behavior. Moreover, treatment with the parasiticide drug benznidazole abrogated depression. Chronic T. cruzi infection of C57BL/6 mice increased tumor necrosis factor (TNF) expression systemically but not in the CNS. Importantly, TNF modulators (anti-TNF and pentoxifylline) reduced immobility. Therefore, direct or indirect parasite-induced immune dysregulation may contribute to chronic depressive disorder in T. cruzi infection, which opens a new therapeutic pathway to be explored.

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N-Benzyl-2-nitro-1H-imidazole-1-acetamide, 97%