Prenatal exposure to anti-HIV drugs: Neurobehavioral effects of zidovudine (AZT) + lamivudine (3TC) treatment in mice

Section of Comparative Psychology, Laboratorio di Fisiopatologia O. S., Istituto Superiore di Sanità (I.S.S.), 00161 Rome, Italy.
Teratology 01/2001; 63(1):26-37. DOI: 10.1002/1096-9926(200101)63:1<26::AID-TERA1005>3.0.CO;2-G
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The new antiretroviral treatments that combine the zidovudine (AZT) regimen with lamivudine (3TC) appear as a cost-effective alternative to the current AZT monotherapy to prevent mother-to-fetus transmission of the HIV-1 virus. Recent evidence in uninfected children raised concern about the long-term effects of perinatal exposure to AZT and 3TC, especially when used in combination. Animal studies indicated behavioral changes in offspring exposed perinatally to both AZT and 3TC, whereas no animal data are available on the effects of the perinatal exposure to the AZT + 3TC combination on neurodevelopment.
Pregnant CD-1 mice received p.o. AZT + 3TC (160 and 500 mg/kg, respectively) or vehicle solution (NaCl 0.9%) twice daily from gestational day 10 to delivery. Maternal reproductive endpoints such as pregnancy length, abortion, litter size, sex ratio, and offspring viability were assessed. Pups were scored for different somatic and behavioral endpoints, including sensorimotor development, homing performance on postnatal day (PND) 10, passive-avoidance testing (PND 22-23), locomotor activity (PND 23), and social interaction (PND 35).
While no effects were observed on maternal reproductive endpoints, treated pups showed a long-lasting reduction of body weight and a slightly delayed maturation of placing and grasping reflexes and pole grasping. No effects on passive-avoidance or locomotor activity were found. AZT + 3TC-treated mice showed selective alterations in the social interaction test; the treated female offspring also displayed a significant reduction of affiliative interactions.
The combination of AZT and 3TC (1) induced small, but more marked, effects on somatic and sensorimotor development than either of these drugs administered separately; and (2) affected juvenile social behavior.

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