Exposure of pregnant rats to stress and/or sertraline: Side effects on maternal health and neurobehavioral development of male offspring

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2021-11-15

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Aims: Sertraline (SE) is one of the most prescribed medications for treating gestational depression, anxiety and stress. However, little is known about its effects on nervous-system development in offspring. Therefore, this study investigated the somatic, reflex and neurobehavioral development of rats exposed to SE during pregnancy, associated or not with stress. Main methods: Pregnant Wistar rats were assigned to the following groups (n = 10-8 rats/group): CO - control animals administered filtered water by gavage; SE - animals administered 20 mg/kg SE by gavage; ST - animals subjected to restraining stress and administered filtered water; ST/SE - animals subjected to restraining stress and administered 20 mg/kg SE. The treatment was administered between gestational days (GD) 13 to 20. Somatic and reflex developments were investigated in the male offspring from postnatal day (PND) 1 to 21. The elevated plus maze was performed on PND 25 and 80. The open field and light/dark box test were performed on PND 90 and 100, respectively. Key findings: Body weight reduction and vaginal bleeding were observed in pregnant rats exposed to SE. The male offspring of the SE group showed delay in incisor eruption, fur development and negative geotaxis. In addition, the SE group was less exploratory (anxious personality) compared to the CO and ST groups. Significance: The results obtained in the present study demonstrate that sertraline not only impairs maternal health, but also, associated or not with stress, can compromise the somatic, reflex and neurobehavioral development of male rats.

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Life Sciences, v. 285.

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