Fluoxetine during pregnancy: impact on fetal development

Discipline of Physics, University of Adelaide, Tarndarnya, South Australia, Australia
Reproduction Fertility and Development (Impact Factor: 2.58). 02/2005; 17(6):641-50. DOI: 10.1071/RD05030
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Women are at greatest risk of suffering from depression during the childbearing years and thus may either become pregnant while taking an antidepressant or may require a prescription for one during pregnancy. The antidepressant fluoxetine (FX) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which increases serotonin neurotransmission. Serotonin is involved in the regulation of a variety of physiological systems, including the sleep-wake cycle, circadian rhythms and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Each of these systems also plays an important role in fetal development. Compared with other antidepressant drugs, the SSRIs, such as FX, have fewer side effects. Because of this, they are now frequently prescribed, especially during pregnancy. Clinical studies suggest poor neonatal outcome after exposure to FX in utero. Recent studies in the sheep fetus describe the physiological effects of in utero exposure to FX with an 8 day infusion during late gestation in the sheep. This is a useful model for determining the effects of FX on fetal physiology. The fetus can be studied for weeks in its normal intrauterine environment with serial sampling of blood, thus permitting detailed studies of drug disposition in both mother and fetus combined with monitoring of fetal behavioural state and cardiovascular function. Fluoxetine causes an acute increase in plasma serotonin levels, leading to a transient reduction in uterine blood flow. This, in turn, reduces the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, thereby presenting a mechanism for reducing growth and/or eliciting preterm delivery. Moreover, because FX crosses the placenta, the fetus is exposed directly to FX, as well as to the effects of the drug on the mother. Fluoxetine increases high-voltage/non-rapid eye movement behavioural state in the fetus after both acute and chronic exposure and, thus, may interfere with normal fetal neurodevelopment. Fluoxetine also alters hypothalamic function in the adult and increases the magnitude of the prepartum rise in fetal cortisol concentrations in sheep. Fetal FX exposure does not alter fetal circadian rhythms in melatonin or prolactin. Studies of the effects of FX exposure on fetal development in the sheep are important in defining possible physiological mechanisms that explain human clinical studies of birth outcomes after FX exposure. To date, there have been insufficient longer-term follow-up studies in any precocial species of offspring exposed to SSRIs in utero. Thus, further investigation of the long-term consequences of in utero exposure to FX and other SSRIs, as well as the mechanisms involved, are required for a complete understanding of the impact of these agents on development. This should involve studies in both humans and appropriate animal models.

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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor used to treat depression in pregnant and nursing women. However, recent studies have shown adverse effects in the male reproductive system after fluoxetine treatment. Aiming to analyze the extent of damage caused by fluoxetine in the testicle and safe doses for treatment during the perinatal period, the present study analyzed the effects of in utero exposure and exposure during lactation to fluoxetine in spermatogenesis of male rat offspring in adulthood. Wistar rat dams were orally treated with fluoxetine (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg) from 13 days of gestation to lactation day 21 and their offspring were analyzed at 90 days old. Results showed a reduction in the weight of testes (16%), epididymis (28%), and seminal glands (18%) in animals exposed to fluoxetine 20 mg/kg compared to the control. Seminal gland weight was also reduced 25% and 30% in animals exposed to 5 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg fluoxetine, respectively. Body weight of animals exposed to 20 mg/kg fluoxetine was reduced from post-natal day 9 to 36 compared to controls but from the post-natal day 9 to 36 there was no statistical difference. The volume of seminiferous epithelium reduced 17% and the total volume of Leydig cells reduced 30% in the group exposed to fluoxetine at 20 mg/kg. Furthermore, Leydig cells volume reduced 29% in the 5 mg/kg group. The length of the seminiferous tubules reduced 17% and daily sperm production per testicle also reduced 18% in animals exposed to the highest dose of fluoxetine compared to controls. The individual area of Leydig cells increased 7% and plasma testosterone increased 49% in animals exposed to fluoxetine at 20 mg/kg. In conclusion, exposure to 20 mg/kg fluoxetine via the placenta and during lactation may change testosterone and testicular parameters important for sperm production and male fertility in adulthood.
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    ABSTRACT: Rationale: Fluoxetine (Flx; brand names Prozac, Sarafem, Rapiflux), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, is prescribed for the treatment of depression in pregnant women; however, this commonly prescribed medication could affect fetal brain development as Flx crosses the placenta. The available data concerning the anatomical and behavioural consequences of perinatal exposure to Flx during early development on adult behaviour are limited and often contradictory. Objectives: To further delineate the long-term behavioural effects of altering 5-HT during development, we examined the effects of perinatal Flx exposure on the behaviour of male mice as adults. Methods: Dams were treated with approximately 25 mg/kg/day of Flx from embryonic day 15 to postnatal day 12, and the behaviour of the adult offspring was assessed. Results: We found that perinatal Flx exposure leads to increased aggression, improved spatial memory, and reduced anxiety-like behaviour. This exposure did not cause memory deficits, changes in sensory processing, or changes in gross motor function. Conclusions: Our results suggest that while perinatal exposure to Flx may have long-term effects on adult behaviour, these effects appear limited and not necessarily detrimental. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.
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