Prenatal exposure to diazepam and alprazolam, but not to zolpidem,affects behavioural stress reactivity in handling-naive and handling-habituatedadult male rat progeny

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A gentle long-lasting handling produces persistent neurochemical and behavioural changes and attenuates the impairment in thebehavioural reactivity to novelty induced by the prenatal exposure to diazepam (DZ) in adult male rat progeny. This study investigated theconsequences of a late prenatal treatment with three GABA/BDZ R agonists (DZ) alprazolam (ALP) and zolpidem (ZOLP)), on differentstress-related behavioural patterns, in non-handled (NH), short-lasting handled (SLH) and long-lasting handled (LLH) adult male ratsexposed to forced swim test (FST), acoustic startle reflex (ASR) and Vogel test (VT). The effects on motor activity were evaluated in theopen field and in the Skinner box. The seizure sensitivity to picrotoxin (PTX) was investigated as an index of the functional state ofGABA/BDZ Rs. A single daily s.c. injection of DZ (1.25–2.50 mg/kg) and ALP (0.125–0.250 mg/kg) over gestational days 14–20induced a decrease in immobility time in the FST in NH rats, no change in SLH rats and an increase in LLH rats; DZ induced an increasein the peak amplitude of the ASR in NH rats, no change in SLH rats and a reduction in LLH rats; ALP was ineffective in all groups. DZand ALP reduced the number of punished licks in the VT in NH, SLH and LLH rats while the unpunished licks were not modified. DZdecreased locomotion and the lever pressing responses while ALP increased them. DZ and ALP increased the seizure sensitivity to PTX(2.5–4.0 mg/kg i.p.). These findings indicate a convergence on anxiety-related behaviours in the effects of prenatal exposure to DZ andALP and a differentiation on motor activity. Long-lasting handling was able to overcompensate the increased behavioural stress reactivityinduced by the prenatal exposure to DZ and ALP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-180
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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