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Sepsis Induces Physical and Mental Impairments in a Mouse Model of Post-Intensive Care Syndrome

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Post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) is a physical, cognitive, and mental impairment observed in intensive care unit (ICU) survivors. Although this is an emerging problem in the ICU, how sepsis induces the characteristic symptoms of PICS remains unclear. To develop a model of PICS, we induced sepsis in male C57/B6 mice via sublethal cecum slurry injection and subsequently treated them using ICU-like interventions. At 1-2 weeks post-sepsis induction, we simultaneously evaluated the abilities of the surviving mice using the following behavioral tests: (1) a grip strength test (GST) and a treadmill test for physical assessment, (2) a novel object recognition test (NORT) for cognitive assessment, and (3) an open field test (OFT) and a marble burying test (MBT) for mental assessment. The surviving mice showed a range of deficits, including muscle weakness with significantly decreased grip strength in the GST; decreased total mileage during the treadmill test; anxiety and decreased activity, with significantly decreased time in the central area, and increased duration of immobility in the OFT; and an increased number of buried marbles in the MBT. Given these physical and mental impairments in the surviving mice, our model has the potential to elucidate mechanistic insights and to discover therapeutic targets and new interventions for PICS.

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