Mouse testing methods in psychoneuroimmunology 2.0: Measuring behavioral responses

Albert E. Towers, Jason M. York, Tracy Baynard, Stephen J. Gainey, Gregory G. Freund

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) aims to uncover the processes and consequences of nervous, immune, and endocrine system relationships. Behavior is a consequence of such interactions and manifests from a complex interweave of factors including immune-to-neural and neural-to-immune communication. Often the signaling molecules involved during a particular episode of neuroimmune activation are not known but behavioral response provides evidence that bioactives such as neurotransmitters and cytokines are perturbed. Immunobehavioral phenotyping is a first-line approach when examining the neuroimmune system and its reaction to immune stimulation or suppression. Behavioral response is significantly more sensitive than direct measurement of a single specific bioactive and can quickly and efficiently rule in or out relevance of a particular immune challenge or therapeutic to neuroimmunity. Classically, immunobehavioral research was focused on sickness symptoms related to bacterial infection but neuroimmune activation is now a recognized complication of diseases and disorders ranging from cancer to diabesity to Alzheimer’s. Immunobehaviors include lethargy, loss of appetite, and disinterest in social activity/surrounding environment. In addition, neuroimmune activation can diminish physical activity, precipitate feelings of depression and anxiety, and impair cognitive and executive function. Provided is a detailed overview of behavioral tests frequently used to examine neuroimmune activation in mice with a special emphasis on pre-experimental conditions that can confound or prevent successful immunobehavioral experimentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages38
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Anhedonia
  • Biobehaviors
  • Brain based
  • Exploration
  • Maze
  • Memory
  • Motor activity
  • Mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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