Anhedonic and anxiogenic effects of cytokine exposure

Document Type

Book Chapter


Brain and Mind Institute


Systemic interleukin IL-1 beta, TNF alpha, and IL-2 profoundly influenced central monoamine activity, as well as behavioral outputs. The effects of the various cytokines were clearly distinguishable from one another, although synergistic effects were detected between several of these cytokines and between the actions of cytokines and stressors. Acutely applied IL-2 appeared to affect reward processes, but did not affect anxiety. When chronically administered, this cytokine markedly influenced working memory in a spatial learning test. In contrast to IL-2, both IL-1 beta and TNF alpha appeared to provoke an anxiogenic action, and provoked clear signs of illness. While these cytokines induced anorexia, they did not appear to affect reward processes. IL-1 beta and TNF alpha were found to act synergistically, and the TNF alpha provoked a sensitization with respect to the action of subsequent TNF alpha treatment. The findings indicated that cytokine treatments profoundly influence extrahypothalamic neurochemical functioning and may thus impact on behavioral outputs. Analyses of the behavioral and neurochemical changes elicited by cytokines, and particularly TNF alpha, need to consider not only the immediate impact of such treatments, but also the proactive effects that may be engendered.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology