Indexed on: 23 Sep '11Published on: 23 Sep '11Published in: Brain Research
Prenatal stress strengthens tonic pain and provokes depression. The serotoninergic system is involved in these processes. We recently showed that maternal buspirone, a 5-HT1A receptor agonist, protects against the adverse effects of in utero stress on depression and pain in adult rat offspring. Using a similar maternal treatment with buspirone, we focus here on the infant stage, which is important for the correction of prenatal abnormalities. Maternal buspirone before restraint stress during the last week of pregnancy decreased the time of immobility in the forced swim test in the infant offspring. Prenatal stress increased formalin-induced pain in the second part of the time-course of the response to formalin in males of middle infancy but in the first part of the response in males of late infancy. The effect was reversed by maternal buspirone. Pain dominated in males of both middle and late infancy but the time-course of formalin pain in infant females revealed a slower development of the processes. The results show that the time-course of formalin-induced pain in infant rats reacts to prenatal stress in an age-dependent and sexually dimorphic manner. Our finding of opposite influences of prenatal stress and buspirone before prenatal stress on formalin-induced pain during the interphase indicates that functional maturity of the descending serotonergic inhibitory system occurs in late infancy males (11-day-olds), and 5-HT1A receptors participate in this process. The data provide evidence that maternal treatment with buspirone prior to stress during pregnancy alleviates depression-like and tonic pain-related behaviors in the infant offspring.