Córneo, E., Michels, M., Abatti, M. et al. 2022. Enriched environment causes epigenetic changes in hippocampus and improves long-term cognitive function in sepsis. Scientific Reports 12(1), 11529.

Sepsis is defined as a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by an inappropriate host response to infection. The presence of oxidative stress and inflammatory mediators in sepsis leads to dysregulated gene expression, leading to a hyperinflammatory response. Environmental conditions play an important role in various pathologies depending on the stimulus it presents. A standard environment condition (SE) may offer reduced sensory and cognitive stimulation, but an enriched environment improves spatial learning, prevents cognitive deficits induced by disease stress, and is an important modulator of epigenetic enzymes. The study evaluated the epigenetic alterations and the effects of the environmental enrichment (EE) protocol in the brain of animals submitted to sepsis by cecal ligation and perforation (CLP). Male Wistar rats were divided into sham and CLP at 24 h, 72 h, 10 days and 30 days after sepsis. Other male Wistar rats were distributed in a SE or in EE for forty-five days. Behavioral tests, analysis of epigenetic enzymes:histone acetylase (HAT), histone deacetylase (HDAC) and DNA methyltransferase (DNMT), biochemical and synaptic plasticity analyzes were performed. An increase in HDAC and DNMT activities was observed at 72 h, 10 days and 30 days. There was a positive correlation between epigenetic enzymes DNMT and HDAC 24 h, 10 days and 30 days. After EE, HDAC and DNMT enzyme activity decreased, cognitive impairment was reversed, IL1-β levels decreased and there was an increase in PSD-95 levels in the hippocampus. Interventions in environmental conditions can modulate the outcomes of long-term cognitive consequences associated with sepsis, supporting the idea of the potential benefits of EE.

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