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Pre-gestational stress reduces the ratio of 5-HIAA to 5-HT and the expression of 5-HT1A receptor and serotonin transporter in the brain of foetal rat

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2202-13-22

Keywords: Corticosterone, HPA axis, Serotonin, Serotonin transporter, Stress

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Abstract:

We used the behavioural tests to assess the model of chronic unpredictable stress (CUS) in maternal rats. We found the activity in the open field and sucrose consumption was lower for rats with CUS than for the controls. Body weight but not brain weight was higher for control foetuses than those from the CUS group. Serum corticosterone and corticotrophin-releasing hormone levels were significantly higher for mothers with CUS before pregnancy and their foetuses than for the controls. Levels of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) were higher in the hippocampus and hypothalamus of foetuses in the CUS group than in the controls, and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) levels were lower in the hippocampus in foetuses in the CUS group than in the control group. Levels of 5-HIAA in the hypothalamus did not differ between foetuses in the CUS group and in the control group. The ratio of 5-HIAA to 5-HT was significantly lower for foetuses in the CUS group than in the control group. Levels of 5-HT1A receptor were significantly lower in the foetal hippocampus in the CUS group than in the control group, with no significant difference in the hypothalamus. The levels of serotonin transporter (SERT) were lower in both the foetal hippocampus and foetal hypothalamus in the CUS group than in the control group.Our data demonstrate that pre-gestational stress alters HPA axis activity in maternal rats and their foetuses, which is associated with functional changes in 5-HT activity (5-HT, 5-HIAA and ratio of 5-HIAA to 5-HT), as well as the levels of the 5-HT1A receptor and SERT in the hippocampus and hypothalamus of foetuses.Many studies in humans and animals have found that emotional disturbance and distress before or during pregnancy that results from natural or human-made disasters, chronic interpersonal tension or adverse conditions in the home or workplace are linked to an increased incidence of behavioural disorders in offspring [1-3]. These disorders include impaired memory and language dev

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