The role of T-cells in neurobehavioural development: Insights from the immunodeficient nude mice


Mice homozygous for the nude mutation (Foxn1nu) are hairless and exhibit congenital dysgenesis of the thymic epithelium, resulting in a primary immunodeficiency of mature T-cells, and have been used for decades in research with tumor grafts. Early studies have already demonstrated social behaviour impairments and central nervous system (CNS) alterations in these animals, but did not address the complex interplay between CNS, immune system and behavioural alterations. Here we investigate the impact of T-cell immunodeficiency on behaviours relevant to the study of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. Moreover, we aimed to characterize in a multidisciplinary manner the alterations related to those findings, through evaluation of the excitatory/inhibitory synaptic proteins, cytokines expression and biological spectrum signature of different biomolecules in nude mice CNS. We demonstrate that BALB/c nude mice display sociability impairments, a complex pattern of repetitive behaviours and higher sensitivity to thermal nociception. These animals also have a reduced IFN-γ gene expression in the prefrontal cortex and an absence of T-cells in meningeal tissue, both known modulators of social behaviour. Furthermore, excitatory synaptic protein PSD-95 immunoreactivity was also reduced in the prefrontal cortex, suggesting an intricate involvement of social behaviour related mechanisms. Lastly, employing biospectroscopy analysis, we have demonstrated that BALB/c nude mice have a different CNS spectrochemical signature compared to their heterozygous littermates. Altogether, our results show a comprehensive behavioural analysis of BALB/c nude mice and potential neuroimmunological influences involved with the observed alterations.

Behavioural Brain Research
Guilherme Bauer Negrini
Guilherme Bauer Negrini
Biomedical Data Scientist | Postdoctoral Associate

Biomedical Informatics and Science