Maternal behavior changes after immune challenge of neonates with developmental effects on adult social behavior

Kathryn E. Hood, Nancy A. Dreschel, Douglas A. Granger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


To examine whether maternal responsiveness during interactions with endotoxin-treated pups contributes to long-term effects on social development, neonatal mice were fostered on postnatal day 1 to dams from three selectively bred lines that differ in social behaviors. On day 5, neonates were administered saline or 0.5 mg/kg endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, i.p.). Observations of undisturbed dams and litters on days 2, 4, 6, and 8 showed modest line differences in maternal behaviors. At the peak intensity of the transient illness induced by endotoxin (3 hr postinjection on day 5), dams increased licking and decreased time off-nest for endotoxin, but not saline-treated pups. As adults, fostered-reared males were observed in brief social interactions. Males exposed to endotoxin early in life showed changes in adult social behaviors that depended on foster dam line as well as individual differences in maternal responsiveness. Maternal responsiveness to stressed neonates can ameliorate the social-developmental effects of early illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-34
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


  • Behavior genetics
  • Endotoxin
  • Immune response
  • Individual differences
  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • Maternal behavior
  • Maternal responsiveness/sensitivity
  • Mice
  • Selective breeding
  • Sickness behavior
  • Social behavior
  • Social development
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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