The immunomodulatory effects of social isolation in mice are linked to temperature control

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Living in isolation is considered an emerging societal problem that negatively affects the physical wellbeing of its sufferers in ways that we are just starting to appreciate. This study investigates the immunomodulatory effects of social isolation in mice, utilising a two-week program of sole cage occupancy followed by the testing of immune-inflammatory resilience to bacterial sepsis. Our results revealed that mice housed in social isolation showed an increased ability to clear bacterial infection compared to control socially housed animals. These effects were associated with specific changes in whole blood gene expression profile and an increased production of classical pro-inflammatory cytokines. Interestingly, equipping socially isolated mice with artificial nests as a substitute for their natural huddling behaviour reversed the increased resistance to bacterial sepsis. Together these results suggest that the control of body temperature through social housing and huddling behaviour are important factors in the regulation of the host immune response to infection in mice and might provide another example of the many ways by which living conditions influence immunity.

Crown Copyright © 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc. The attached document (embargoed until 26/02/2023) is an author produced version of a paper published in BRAIN, BEHAVIOR, AND IMMUNITY uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-194
JournalBrain Behav. Immun.
Early online date22 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Feb 2022

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