Behavioral, cognitive and histological changes following neonatal anoxia: male and female rats' differences at adolescent age.

Research paper by Amrita Jha AJ Kumar, Lívia Clemente LC Motta-Teixeira, Silvia Honda SH Takada, Vitor Yonamine VY Lee, Aline Vilar AV Machado-Nils, Gilberto Fernando GF Xavier, Maria Inês MI Nogueira

Indexed on: 19 Dec '18Published on: 19 Dec '18Published in: International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience


Neonatal anoxia induces long-term brain injury that may underlie neurobehavioral deficits at adolescence. Neonatal anoxia, induced by exposure of 30-hour old pups to 100% nitrogen, represents a non-invasive and global stimulus, which simulates clinical conditions of human pre-term babies (around 6 gestational months). Previous studies showed that neonatal anoxia induced impairments of spatial memory and altered anxiety-like behaviors in male rats tested at adult age. This study evaluated if neonatal anoxia induces similar behavioral effects in female rats, as compared to males, by testing the animals at adolescence, and also searched for possible cell losses in hippocampal subfields. Results in the Elevated Plus Maze test showed that anoxic females spent proportionally more time within the open arms as compared to anoxic males, suggesting a less anxious-like behavior. In the Morris Water Maze Test, latencies and path lengths of the anoxic subjects were longer as compared to control subjects, thus indicating that anoxia disrupted the cognitive functions required for spatial mapping. In addition, results showed that anoxia-induced disruption was greater in male rats as compared to female rats. Stereological analysis revealed that anoxic male rats exhibited significant cell losses in the dorsal hippocampus dentate gyrus and CA1 subfields, but not in CA3-2 subfield. Similar results were observed in the ventral hippocampus, but now with cell loss in the male CA3-2 subfield. There were also significant cell loss differences of anoxic male rats as compared to anoxic female rats. In conclusion, neonatal anoxia induces deleterious and long lasting behavioral and cognitive disruptions, and these effects were stronger in male rats as compared to female rats. These changes are congruent with the pattern of cell losses observed in hippocampal subfields. Together, these results emphasize the relevance of scientific research, aiming at clinical strategies and treatments, consider the sex differential patterns of response to neonatal injury. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Ltd.