Exposure to quinestrol and levonorgestrel affects maternal behavior and offspring development in midday gerbil (Meriones meridianus)

Yu, P.; Chen, Z.; Zhao, H.; Cao, R.; Chen, L.; Su, J.; Ning, Y.

Physiology and Behavior 219: 112848


ISSN/ISBN: 1873-507X
PMID: 32088172
DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.112848
Accession: 069841261

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Quinestrol and levonorgestrel (EP-1, at a ratio of 1:2) are often used as anti-fertility compounds (sterilants) in rodents. As most of the research has focused on the sterility and damage caused in parental reproductive organs, there is little research on the effect of these contraceptive hormones on maternal behavior and offspring's early development. In this study, we examined maternal behavior after treatment with different doses of EP-1 (10 ml/kg) at postnatal days 3 and 10, separately. Various parameters were measured after treatment, including oxytocin expression, serum levels of estradiol and luteinizing hormone (LH), ovary damage after weaning of offspring, as well as the development and ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) of midday gerbil (Meriones meridianus) offspring. At postnatal days 5 and 12, the EP-1 increased maternal licking, grooming, and retrieving behavior, while reducing contacting behavior. Oxytocin expression in the hypothalamic paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei increased, while the levels of estradiol and LH decreased. The ovaries and the development of follicles were clearly affected by the treatment. The EP-1 significantly reduced the pups' body weight, the amount and pulse duration of USVs, whereas the frequency range variation of USVs was increased. Overall, treatment with EP-1 during lactation significantly affected maternal behavior and impaired offspring early development in the midday gerbil.