Abstract—The neurobehavioral and neurochemical effects produced by prenatal methylmercury exposure (8 mg/kg, gestational-days 8 or 15), were investigated in rats. On postnatal day 40, animals exposed to methylmercury and tested in the open field arena, showed a reduction in the number of rearings, whereas the number of crossings and resting time was not altered with respect to the age-matched control rats. The methylmercury-exposed groups showed a lower level of exploratory behavior as well as an impairment in habituation and working memory when subjected to the novel object exploration task. The neophobia displayed by methylmercury- exposed rats is unlikely to be attributed to a higher degree of anxiety. Prenatal methylmercury exposure did not affect motor coordination or motor learning in 40-day-old rats subjected to the balance task on a rotating rod, and it did not impair the onset of reflexive behavior in pups screened for righting reflex, cliff aversion and negative geotaxis. In cortical cell cultures from pups exposed to methylmercury during gestation, basal extracellular glutamate levels were higher, whereas the KCl-evoked extracellular glutamate levels were lower than that measured in cultures from rats born to control mothers. In addition, a higher responsiveness of glutamate release to N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor activation was evident in cortical cell cultures from pups born from methylmercury-treated dams than in cultures obtained from control rats. The present results suggest that acute maternal methylmercury exposure induces, in rat offspring, subtle changes in short-term memory as well as in exploratory behavior. These impairments seem to be associated to alterations of cortical glutamatergic signaling.

Acute exposure to methylmercury at two developmental windows: focus on neurobehavioral and neurochemical effects in rat offspring

CARRATU', Maria Rosaria;BORRACCI, PIETRO;GIUSTINO, Arcangela;
2006

Abstract

Abstract—The neurobehavioral and neurochemical effects produced by prenatal methylmercury exposure (8 mg/kg, gestational-days 8 or 15), were investigated in rats. On postnatal day 40, animals exposed to methylmercury and tested in the open field arena, showed a reduction in the number of rearings, whereas the number of crossings and resting time was not altered with respect to the age-matched control rats. The methylmercury-exposed groups showed a lower level of exploratory behavior as well as an impairment in habituation and working memory when subjected to the novel object exploration task. The neophobia displayed by methylmercury- exposed rats is unlikely to be attributed to a higher degree of anxiety. Prenatal methylmercury exposure did not affect motor coordination or motor learning in 40-day-old rats subjected to the balance task on a rotating rod, and it did not impair the onset of reflexive behavior in pups screened for righting reflex, cliff aversion and negative geotaxis. In cortical cell cultures from pups exposed to methylmercury during gestation, basal extracellular glutamate levels were higher, whereas the KCl-evoked extracellular glutamate levels were lower than that measured in cultures from rats born to control mothers. In addition, a higher responsiveness of glutamate release to N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor activation was evident in cortical cell cultures from pups born from methylmercury-treated dams than in cultures obtained from control rats. The present results suggest that acute maternal methylmercury exposure induces, in rat offspring, subtle changes in short-term memory as well as in exploratory behavior. These impairments seem to be associated to alterations of cortical glutamatergic signaling.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11586/133159
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