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Effects of maternal separation on the neurobehavioral development of newborn Wistar rats

Effects of maternal separation on the neurobehavioral development of newborn Wistar rats

Brain Research Bulletin 79(3-4): 208-214

ISSN/ISBN: 0361-9230

PMID: 19150489

DOI: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2008.12.011

Animal models of neonatal stress, like maternal separation, may provide important correlation with human stress-related disorders. Early maternal deprivation has been shown to cause several short- and long-term neurochemical and behavioral deficits. Little is known about the early neurobehavioral development after postnatal stress. The aim of the present study was to investigate the development of reflexes and motor coordination in male and female pups subjected to maternal deprivation. Pups were removed from their mothers from postnatal day 1-14, for 3h daily. Somatic development (weight gain, eye opening, ear unfolding, incisor eruption) and reflex development was tested during the first 3 weeks. The appearance of the following reflexes was investigated: crossed extensor, grasping, placing, gait, righting and sensory reflexes, and negative geotaxis. Timely performance of negative geotaxis, righting and gait were also tested daily during the first 3 weeks. Motor coordination and open-field tests were performed on postnatal weeks 3-5 (rotarod, elevated grid-walk, footfault, rope suspension, inclined board and walk initiation tests). The results revealed that a 3-h-long daily maternal separation did not lead to a marked delay or enhancement in reflex development and motor coordination. A subtle enhancement was observed in the appearance of hindlimb grasp and gait reflexes, and a better performance in footfault test in male rats suffering from maternal deprivation. In contrast, female maternally deprived (MD) rats displayed a slight delay in forelimb grasp and air righting reflex appearance, and surface righting performance. Open-field activity was not changed in maternally deprived rats. In summary, our present observations indicate that maternal deprivation does not induce drastic changes in early neurodevelopment, therefore, further research is needed to determine the onset of behavioral alterations in subject with maternal deprivation history. Gender differences described in this study could help to understand how gender-specific differences in early life experience-induced stress-related disorders appear in adult life.

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Accession: 052875173

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