Inbred MRL, NZB and BXSB strains of mice spontaneously develop a systemic, lupus-like autoimmune disease. The progress of autoimmunity is accompanied with a cascade of behavioral changes, most consistently observed in tasks reflective of emotional reactivity and the two-way avoidance learning task. Given the possibility that behavioral alterations may reflect a detrimental consequence of autoimmune-inflammatory processes and/or an adaptive response to chronic malaise, they are tentatively labeled as autoimmunity-associated behavioral syndrome (AABS). It is hypothesized that neuroactive immune factors (pro inflammatory cytokines, brain-reactive antibodies) together with endocrine mediators (corticotropin-releasing factor, glucocorticoids) participate in the etiology of AABS. Since AABS develops natively, and has a considerable face and predictive validity, and since the principal pathway to autoimmunity is known, AABS may be a useful model for the study of CNS involvement in human autoimmune diseases and by extension, for testing autoimmune hypotheses of several mental disorders (major depression, schizophrenia. Alzheimer's disease, autism and AIDS- related dementia).
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