Prenatal Melamine Exposure Impairs Spatial Cognition and Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity by Presynaptic and Postsynaptic Inhibition of Glutamatergic Transmission in Adolescent Offspring.

Research paper by Lei L An, Wei W Sun

Indexed on: 12 Feb '17Published on: 12 Feb '17Published in: Toxicology Letters


Our previous studies showed that prenatal melamine exposure (PME) could impair spatial cognition and hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP). More importantly, the synaptic dysfunction induced by PME was associated with the probability of presynaptic glutamate release. Considering the crucial role of the other form of synaptic plasticity, long-term depression (LTD), in some types of learning and memory process, the aim of present study was to investigate if the hippocampal LTD and cognitive flexibility were affected. And then we attempted to explore the underlying mechanism. The animal model was produced by melamine exposure throughout gestational period with 400mg/kg bodyweight, the male offspring rats were used in the study. Morris water maze (MWM) test was performed, and then LTD was recorded from Schaffer collaterals to CA1 region in the hippocampus. Behavioral test showed that learning, reference memory and re-acquisition learning abilities were impaired significantly by PME. The field excitatory postsynaptic potentials (fEPSPs) slopes of LTD were significantly higher after PME. Furthermore, the data of whole-cell patch-clamp experiments showed that PME markedly diminished the frequencies of spontaneous EPSCs (sEPSCs) and simultaneously reduced the amplitude of sEPSCs. In conclusion, PME inhibited glutamate transmission presynaptically and postsynaptically which could contribute importantly to the depressed hippocampal synaptic plasticity and further induced cognitive deficits in MWM tests.