Age-related cognitive decline, a common component of the brain aging process, is associated with significant impairment in daily functioning and quality of life among geriatric adults. While the complexity of mechanisms underlying cognitive aging are still being elucidated, microbial exposure and the multifactorial inflammatory cascades associated with systemic infections are emerging as potential drivers of neurological senescence. The negative cognitive and neurobiological consequences of a single pathogen-associated inflammatory experience, such as that modeled through treatment with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), are well documented. Yet, the brain aging impacts of repeated, intermittent inflammatory challenges are less well studied. To extend the emerging literature assessing the impact of infection burden on cognitive function among normally aging mice, here, we repeatedly exposed adult mice to intermittent LPS challenges during the aging period. Male 10-month-old C57BL6 mice were systemically administered escalating doses of LPS once every two weeks for 2.5 months. We evaluated cognitive consequences using the non-spatial step-through inhibitory avoidance task, and both spatial working and reference memory versions of the Morris water maze. We also probed several potential mechanisms, including cortical and hippocampal cytokine/chemokine gene expression, as well as hippocampal neuronal function via extracellular field potential recordings. Though there was limited evidence for an ongoing inflammatory state in cortex and hippocampus, we observed impaired learning and memory and a disruption of hippocampal long-term potentiation. These data suggest that a history of intermittent exposure to LPS-induced inflammation is associated with subtle but significantly impaired cognition among normally aging mice. The broader impact of these findings may have important implications for standard of care involving infections in aging individuals or populations at-risk for dementia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience