Objective: The present study analyzed the effects of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on maternal behavior during lactation and possible correlations with changes in emotional and immune responses in offspring. Methods: Lactating rats received 100 μg/kg LPS, and the control group received saline solution on lactation day (LD) 3. Maternal general activity and maternal behavior were observed on LD5 (i.e. the day that the peak of fever occurred). In male pups, hematological parameters and ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) were assessed on LD5. At weaning, an additional dose of LPS (50 µg/kg, i.p.) was administered in male pups, and open-field behavior, oxidative burst and phagocytosis were evaluated. Results: A reduction in the time in which dams retrieved the pups was observed, whereas no effects on maternal aggressive behavior were found. On LD5, a reduction of the frequency of USVs was observed in pups, but no signs of inflammation were found. At weaning, an increase in immune system activity was observed, but no differences in open-field behavior were found. Conclusion: These results indicate that inflammation in lactating mothers disrupted mother/pup interactions and may have produced short- and long-term effects on pup behavior as well as biological pathways that modulate inflammatory responses to bacterial endotoxin challenge in pups.

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