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2007 | 67 | 4 | 471-479

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Effects of neonatal maternal deprivation and postweaning environmental complexity on dendritic morphology of prefrontal pyramidal neurons in the rat

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It has been reported that periodic maternal separation in rats leads to a variety of endure behavioral, neurochemical and microstructural sequelae associated with the pathophysiology of anxiety disorders. Since it has been proposed that these changes might be permanent, we examined whether environmental complexity aid to recover the structural dendritic impairment induced by neonatal maternal deprivation in the medial prefrontal cortex of the rat. In addition, the anxiety-like behavior was assessed in the elevated plus-maze. Repeated maternal separation between postnatal days 6-21 (3 hours daily) significantly reduced the dendritic material in layer II/III pyramidal neurons and induced anxiety-like behaviors in the elevated plus maze. Furthermore, environmental stimulation (twice a day, 1 h each) during 12 consecutive days (postnatal days 23-35) failed to recover the neuronal and behavioral disorders induced by neonatal maternal separation. The results demonstrated that (i) neonatal maternal separation severely altered pyramidal dendritic outgrowth in close association with anxiety-like behavior assessed in the elevated plus maze, and (ii) postweaning environmental complexity was unable to recover neither the prefrontocortical neuronal impairment nor the novelty-induced anxiety-like behavior triggered by early maternal deprivation.



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R. Pascual, Laboratory of Neuroscience, School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Basic Sciences and Mathematics, Catholic University of Valparaiso, Avenida Brasil 2950, Valparaiso, Chile


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