Acute immobilization stress evokes sexually dimorphic peripheral and hippocampal neuroimmune responses in adult rats

Ankit Sood, Pratik R. Chaudhari, Praachi Tiwari, Sneha Shah, Vidita A. Vaidya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Stress perception and response vary across sexes and may contribute to the sex differences in susceptibility to psychopathology. Stress also engages the immune system and baseline immune system markers are known to be sexually dimorphic. Here, we investigated if the neuroimmune consequences following a single episode of acute immobilization stress (AIS) are sexually dimorphic in male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. We analyzed immune parameters in the periphery, and markers of neuroinflammation in the hippocampus, a key target of stress effects in the brain. We observed sexual dimorphism in the pattern of regulation of peripheral cytokines following stress, with males showing a significant increase in the levels of specific cytokines compared to females. Hippocampal cytokine and neuroinflammation-associated gene expression level analysis did not reveal any sexually dimorphic effects of AIS. However, we noted lower baseline expression levels for specific cytokines and many of the genes analyzed in the hippocampus of control females compared to control males. Finally, we assessed the levels of components of the NLRP3 inflammasome in the hippocampus and observed increased NLRP3 protein levels at baseline in females. We further noted that while males showed an increase in NLRP3 levels following AIS, females failed to show a similar change. Together, our results highlight a sexual dimorphism in neuroimmune consequences following AIS, both in the periphery and within the hippocampus, with males displaying robust proinflammatory changes and similar changes not observed in females. Our study underlines the importance of investigating the effect of sex on neuroimmune consequences following acute stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number136871
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Oct 15 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge funding from TIFR, Department of Atomic Energy (RTI4003). The authors are grateful to Dr. Shital Suryavanshi and the TIFR animal facility staff for their assistance with animal experiments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammasome
  • Neuroinflammation
  • NLRP3
  • Sex difference

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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