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Tight regulation of hormone and neurochemical milieu during developmental periods is critical for adequate physiological functions. For instance, activation of peptide systems during early life stress induces morphological changes in the brain resulting in depression and anxiety disorders. Prolactin (PRL) exerts different actions within the brain; it regulates neurogenesis and modulates neuroendocrine functions in the adult. However, PRL effects during early postnatal life are hardly known. Therefore, we examined whether neonatal administration of PRL influences cell survival in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) and in the olfactory bulb (OB) and whether such influence results in behavioral consequences in adulthood. PRL-treated rat pups (13 mg/kg; PND1 to PND14), injected with BrdU at postnatal day 5 (PND5), showed a decrease in the density of DG BrdU/DCX and BrdU/NeuN-positive cells that survive at PND15. Similarly, PRL treatment decreased the density of BrdU+ cells in the OB compared with VEH. Fluorojade B analysis showed no significant changes in the amount of cell death in the DG between the groups. Postnatal PRL administration induced a passive coping strategy in the forced swimming test in male and female adult rats when compared with control and vehicle groups. Corticosterone endogenous levels at PND12 were not affected by PRL or VEH treatment. Altogether, these results suggest that opposed to its effects in the adult, postnatal PRL treatment affects neurogenesis and results in psychopathology later in life. High PRL levels, as observed in neonates under several pathological states, might contribute to detrimental effects on the developing brain. © 2013.

Dra. Lajud Naima