Subchronic perinatal asphyxia increased anxiety-and depression-like behaviors in the rat offspring.

OBJECTIVES: Perinatal asphyxia is one of the major cause of mortality in newborns and cause of neurological disorders in adulthood. Brain damage is of the most concern due to high sensitivity of nervous system to suboptimal intrauterine oxygen condition. The aim of this study was to assess effect of subchronic prenatal asphyxia (SPA) during sensitive stages of brain maturation on behavioral changes in rats, as a method of prenatal programming of anxiety and depression-like behavior.

METHODS: Pregnant Wistar/DV females were exposed to environment containing lower oxygen (10.5% O2) during sensitive stages of brain maturation (day 19-20 of gestation) for 4h a day and anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in offspring were assessed using battery of behavioral tests--Open field (OF), Elevated plus maze (EPM), Light/dark test (L/D), Forced swim test (FST), and Stress induced hyperthermia (SIH).

RESULTS: OF did not induced changes of locomotor and exploration activities. The anxiety-like behavior was induced by SPA in EPM and L/D. These results were significant in males SPA group only. The higher response to the stress stimulus in SIH was recorded in both males and females SPA group. The intensity of climbing on the walls of cylinder in FST in males SPA group was significantly decreased indicating depression-like behavior in adulthood.

CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, we found out that perinatal asphyxia on 19th and 20th day of gestation caused anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in the rat offspring. Our model of SPA has proved to be useful to study the conditions of asphyxia during pregnancy, and could be suitable model for studies uncovering the mechanisms of prenatal programming of psychiatric diseases.

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