Psychoneuroimmunology studies the increasing number of connections between neurobiology, immunology and behaviour. We demonstrate the effects of the immune response on two fundamental behaviours: sleep and memory ability in Drosophila melanogaster. We used the Geneswitch system to upregulate peptidoglycan receptor protein (PGRP) expression, thereby stimulating the immune system in the absence of infection. Geneswitch was activated by feeding the steroid RU486, to the flies. We used an aversive classical conditioning paradigm to quantify memory and measures of activity to infer sleep. Immune stimulated flies exhibited reduced levels of sleep, which could not be explained by a generalised increase in waking activity. Immune stimulated flies also showed a reduction in memory abilities. These results lend support to Drosophila as a model for immune-neural interactions and provide a possible role for sleep in the interplay between the immune response and memory.
Mallon, E. B., Alghamdi, A., Holdbrook, R. T. K., & Rosato, E. (2014). Immune stimulation reduces sleep and memory ability in Drosophila melanogaster . PeerJ, 2, e434. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.434