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    The serotoninergic system plays an important role in the ontogeny of the mammalian central nervous system, and changes in serotonin production during development may lead to permanent changes in brain cytoarchitecture and function. The present study investigated the programming effects of neonatal serotonin depletion on behavior and molecular components of the serotoninergic system in adult male and female rats. Subcutaneous para-chlorophenylalanine (pCPA) administration (100 mg kg-1) was performed daily on postnatal days 8-16 to deplete brain serotonin content. During adulthood, elevated plus-maze, open field, social interaction, forced swimming, and food, saline, and sucrose intake tests were performed. Relative expression of serotonin neurotransmission components in several brain areas was determined by qPCR. Additionally, serotonin immunofluorescence and neuropeptide mRNA expression were assessed in dorsal raphe (DRN) and paraventricular (PVN) nuclei, respectively. Rat performance in behavioral tests demonstrated a general increase in locomotor activity and active escape behavior as well as decreased anxiety-like behavior after neonatal brain serotonin depletion. The behavioral programming effects due to neonatal serotonin depletion were more pronounced in females than males. At the gene expression level, the mRNA of Tph1 and Tph2 were lower in DRN while Htr2c was higher in the amygdala of pCPA-treated males, while Htr1a, Htr2c, Oxt, Avp, Crh, and Trh were not different in any treatments or sex in PVN. The results indicate that neonatal serotonin depletion has long-term consequences on locomotion and anxiety-like behavior associated with long-lasting molecular changes in the brain serotoninergic system in adult rats.


    Verónica Trujillo, Evandro Valentim-Lima, Rodrigo Mencalha, Quézia S R Carbalan, Raoni C Dos-Santos, Viviane Felintro, Carlos E N Girardi, Rodrigo Rorato, Danilo Lustrino, Luis C Reis, André S Mecawi. Neonatal Serotonin Depletion Induces Hyperactivity and Anxiolytic-like Sex-Dependent Effects in Adult Rats. Molecular neurobiology. 2021 Mar;58(3):1036-1051

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    PMID: 33083963

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