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YEAR : 2012

Impact of prenatal ischemia on behavior, cognitive abilities and neuroanatomy in adult rats with white matter damage.

AUTHORS : Delcour M, Russier M, Amin M, Baud O, Paban V, Barbe MF, Coq JO.

JOURNAL : Behavioral Brain Research

Early brain damage, such as white matter damage (WMD), resulting from perinatal hypoxia-ischemia in preterm and low birth weight infants represents a high risk factor for mortality and chronic disabilities, including sensory, motor, behavioral and cognitive disorders. In previous studies, we developed a model of WMD based on prenatal ischemia (PI), induced by unilateral ligation of uterine artery at E17 in pregnant rats. We have shown that PI reproduced some of the main deficits observed in preterm infants, such as white and gray matter damage, myelination deficits, locomotor, sensorimotor, and short-term memory impairments, as well as related musculoskeletal and neuroanatomical histopathologies [1-3]. Here, we determined the deleterious impact of PI on several behavioral and cognitive abilities in adult rats, as well as on the neuroanatomical substratum in various related brain areas. Adult PI rats exhibited spontaneous exploratory and motor hyperactivity, deficits in information encoding, and deficits in short- and long-term object memory tasks, but no impairments in spatial learning or working memory in watermaze tasks. These results were in accordance with white matter injury and damage in the medial and lateral entorhinal cortices, as detected by axonal degeneration, astrogliosis and neuronal density. Although there was astrogliosis and axonal degeneration in the fornix, hippocampus and cingulate cortex, neuronal density in the hippocampus and cingulate cortex was not affected by PI. Levels of spontaneous hyperactivity, deficits in object memory tasks, neuronal density in the medial and lateral entorhinal cortices, and astrogliosis in the fornix correlated with birth weight in PI rats. Thus, this rodent model of WMD based on PI appears to recapitulate the main neurobehavioral and neuroanatomical human deficits often observed in preterm children with a perinatal history of ischemia.