Lipopolysaccharide facilitates partner preference behaviors in female prairie voles

Staci D. Bilbo, Sabra L. Klein, A. Courtney Devries, Randy J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Exposure to proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., IL-1β) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS) produces an acute activation of the immune response and results in a repertoire of behavioral patterns collectively termed sickness behaviors. Although nonspecific responses to pathogenic infection have traditionally been viewed as maladaptive effects of infection, sickness behaviors may have significant, adaptive value for the host. One set of adaptive behaviors affected by infection among mammals and birds is mate choice. In Experiment 1, female prairie voles exhibited the expected increase in blood corticosterone concentrations in response to a 0.1 cc i.p. LPS injection (50 μg), indicating activation of the endocrine system. A separate cohort of females was injected with LPS or saline and paired for 6 h with a novel, previously unpaired male. Following the cohabitation period, LPS- injected females spent significantly more time (p < 0.05) with the familiar partner when given a choice between familiar and unfamiliar males in a three- chamber apparatus designed to test partner preferences. Saline-injected females spent significantly more time with the unfamiliar male. In Experiment 2, males injected with LPS or saline spent equal amounts of time with familiar and unfamiliar females following a 6 h cohabitation with a naive female, and therefore, did not exhibit preferences. From a proximate perspective, this study provides evidence that sickness behaviors influence female, but not male, partner preference in prairie voles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-156
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Corticosterone
  • Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)
  • Partner preference
  • Sickness behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Lipopolysaccharide facilitates partner preference behaviors in female prairie voles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this