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Neural substrates for behaviorally conditioned immunosuppression in the rat.
Pacheco-López, Gustavo
Niemi, Maj-Britt
Kou, Wei
Härting, Margarete
Fandrey, Joachim
Schedlowski, Manfred
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 2005 Mar 02;25: 2330-7

We have previously demonstrated behaviorally conditioned immunosuppression using cyclosporin A as an unconditioned stimulus and saccharin as a conditioned stimulus. In the current study, we examined the central processing of this phenomenon generating excitotoxic lesions before and after acquisition to discriminate between learning and memory processes. Three different brain areas were analyzed: insular cortex (IC), amygdala (Am), and ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH). The results demonstrate that IC lesions performed before and after acquisition disrupted the behavioral component of the conditioned response (taste aversion). In contrast, Am and VMH lesions did not affect conditioned taste aversion. The behaviorally conditioned suppression of splenocyte proliferation and cytokine production (interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma) was differentially affected by the excitotoxic lesions, showing that the IC is essential to acquire and evoke this conditioned response of the immune system. In contrast, the Am seems to mediate the input of visceral information necessary at the acquisition time, whereas the VMH appears to participate within the output pathway to the immune system necessary to evoke the behavioral conditioned immune response. The present data reveal relevant neural mechanisms underlying the learning and memory processes of behaviorally conditioned immunosuppression.

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