Neonatal corticosterone mitigates autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus in mice

Simone Macrì, Chiara Spinello, Joanna Widomska, Roberta Magliozzi, Geert Poelmans, Roberto William Invernizzi, Roberta Creti, Veit Roessner, Erika Bartolini, Immaculada Margarit, Jeffrey Glennon, Giovanni Laviola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increased glucocorticoid concentrations have been shown to favor resilience towards autoimmune phenomena. Here, we addressed whether experimentally induced elevations in circulating glucocorticoids mitigate the abnormalities exhibited by an experimental model of Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS). This is a pathogenic hypothesis linking repeated exposures to Group-A-beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GAS), autoantibodies targeting selected brain nuclei and neurobehavioral abnormalities. To persistently elevate glucocorticoid concentrations, we supplemented lactating SJL/J mice with corticosterone (CORT; 80 mg/L) in the drinking water. Starting in adolescence (postnatal day 28), developing offspring were exposed to four injections - at bi-weekly intervals - of a GAS homogenate and tested for behavioral, immunological, neurochemical and molecular alterations. GAS mice showed increased perseverative behavior, impaired sensorimotor gating, reduced reactivity to a serotonergic agonist and inflammatory infiltrates in the anterior diencephalon. Neonatal CORT persistently increased circulating glucocorticoids concentrations and counteracted these alterations. Additionally, neonatal CORT increased peripheral and CNS concentrations of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-9. Further, upstream regulator analysis of differentially expressed genes in the striatum showed that the regulatory effect of estradiol is inhibited in GAS-treated mice and activated in GAS-treated mice exposed to CORT. These data support the hypothesis that elevations in glucocorticoids may promote central immunomodulatory processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28372
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Tourette Syndrome, Animal models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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