Living in a mentally and physically stimulating environment has been suggested to have a beneficial effect on the immune response. This study investigates these effects, utilizing a 2-week program of environmental enrichment (EE) and 2 models of acute inflammation: zymosan-induced peritonitis (ZIP) and the cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) model of sepsis. Our results revealed that following exposure to EE, mice possessed a significantly higher circulating neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio compared with control animals. When subject to ZIP, EE animals exhibit enhanced neutrophil and macrophage influx into their peritoneal cavity. Corresponding results were found in CLP, where we observed an improved capacity for enriched animals to clear systemic microbial infection. Ex vivo investigation of leukocyte activity also revealed that macrophages from EE mice presented an enhanced phagocytic capacity. Supporting these findings, microarray analysis of EE animals revealed the increased expression of immunomodulatory genes associated with a heightened and immunoprotective status. Taken together, these results provide potentially novel mechanisms by which EE influences the development and dynamics of the immune response.


Samuel Brod, Thomas Gobbetti, Beatrice Gittens, Masahiro Ono, Mauro Perretti, Fulvio D’Acquisto


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