Behavioral and neural effects of intra-striatal infusion of anti-streptococcal antibodies in rats

Dafna Lotan, Itai Benhar, Kathy Alvarez, Adita Mascaro-Blanco, Lior Brimberg, Dan Frenkel, Madeleine W. Cunningham, Daphna Joel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Group A β-hemolytic streptococcal (GAS) infection is associated with a spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders. The leading hypothesis regarding this association proposes that a GAS infection induces the production of auto-antibodies, which cross-react with neuronal determinants in the brain through the process of molecular mimicry. We have recently shown that exposure of rats to GAS antigen leads to the production of anti-neuronal antibodies concomitant with the development of behavioral alterations. The present study tested the causal role of the antibodies by assessing the behavior of naïve rats following passive transfer of purified antibodies from GAS-exposed rats. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) purified from the sera of GAS-exposed rats was infused directly into the striatum of naïve rats over a 21-day period. Their behavior in the induced-grooming, marble burying, food manipulation and beam walking assays was compared to that of naïve rats infused with IgG purified from adjuvant-exposed rats as well as of naïve rats. The pattern of in vivo antibody deposition in rat brain was evaluated using immunofluorescence and colocalization. Infusion of IgG from GAS-exposed rats to naïve rats led to behavioral and motor alterations partially mimicking those seen in GAS-exposed rats. IgG from GAS-exposed rats reacted with D1 and D2 dopamine receptors and 5HT-2A and 5HT-2C serotonin receptors in vitro. In vivo, IgG deposits in the striatum of infused rats colocalized with specific brain proteins such as dopamine receptors, the serotonin transporter and other neuronal proteins. Our results demonstrate the potential pathogenic role of autoantibodies produced following exposure to GAS in the induction of behavioral and motor alterations, and support a causal role for autoantibodies in GAS-related neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-262
Number of pages14
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Animal model
  • Dopamine
  • Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus (PANDAS)
  • Serotonin
  • Streptococcus group A (GAS)
  • Sydenham's chorea (SC)


Dive into the research topics of 'Behavioral and neural effects of intra-striatal infusion of anti-streptococcal antibodies in rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this