• age;
  • corticosterone;
  • cytokine;
  • interleukin-1β;
  • SEA


Aged subjects are more vulnerable to administration of the endotoxin lipopolysaccharide, but research on age-associated sensitivity to other immune stimulants has been limited. The current study examined the effects of administering the superantigen, staphylococcal enterotoxin A (SEA), to young (4-month-old) and aged (20-month-old) male C57BL/6J mice on consumption of a novel liquid, cytokine production, corticosterone levels, and expression of central mRNA levels of cytokines and corticotropin-releasing hormone. SEA produced exaggerated hypophagia in aged mice, as they showed decreased consumption that persisted for 24 h. SEA increased hypothalamic mRNA levels of interleukin-1β in the aged, but not the young, mice 2 h after administration. No differences in cytokine expression were observed 24 h after SEA. Both age groups showed increased plasma corticosterone levels 2 h after SEA administration. However, 24 h after SEA exposure the aged, but not the young, mice showed an augmented corticosterone response to the consumption test. Collectively, these data show that aging may exacerbate the behavioral and neuroinflammatory response to superantigen exposure. Further, the present study suggests that immune activation may result in delayed alterations in stress-induced corticosterone production in aged subjects.