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Open Access Open Badges Research

Interleukin-1 beta converting enzyme is necessary for development of depression-like behavior following intracerebroventricular administration of lipopolysaccharide to mice

Marcus A Lawson12, Robert H McCusker123 and Keith W Kelley123*

Author Affiliations

1 Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

2 Integrative Immunology and Behavior Program, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

3 Department of Pathology, Colleges of ACES and Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

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Journal of Neuroinflammation 2013, 10:54  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-10-54

Published: 1 May 2013



Interleukin-1 beta converting enzyme (ICE, caspase 1) is a cysteine protease that processes immature pro-IL-1β into active mature IL-1β. IL-1β is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that mediates many of the physiological and behavioral responses to inflammation. Genetic deletion of ICE has previously been shown to prevent some negative physiologic responses to lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation.


Here we used a preclinical murine model to test the hypothesis that ICE is necessary for development of depression-like behaviors following intracerebroventricular (ICV) treatment with LPS. Adult male ICE knockout (ICE KO) and congenic wild-type C57BL/6 J (WT) mice were administered LPS either ICV at 100 ng/mouse or intraperitoneally (IP) at 830 μg/kg body weight or an equal volume of saline as controls. Mice were monitored up to 48 h after treatment for both sickness and depression-like behaviors.


LPS given ICV induced a loss of body weight in both WT and ICE KO mice. This sickness response was similar between WT and ICE KO mice. As expected, LPS administered ICV increased immobility in the forced swim test (FST) and decreased sucrose preference in WT mice but no change in either of these two depression-like behaviors was observed in ICE KO mice. Expression of TNF-α and CD11b in brain was lower in ICE-KO mice at 24 h following ICV administration of LPS compared to WT mice. In contrast, when LPS was given systemically, sickness response, depression-like behaviors, and expression of these genes were similar between the two strains of mice.


These findings indicate that ICE plays a specific role in depression-like behavior induced by a central inflammatory stimuli even though it is not required when LPS is administered systemically.