Exposure in fetus of methylazoxymethanol in the rat alters brain neurotrophins' levels and brain cells' proliferation

Institute of Neurobiology and Molecular Medicine, CNR-EBRI Via del Fosso di Fiorano, 64, 00143 Rome, Italy.
Neurotoxicology and Teratology (Impact Factor: 2.76). 03/2007; 29(2):273-81. DOI: 10.1016/
Source: PubMed


Changes during gestation have been shown to induce brain maldevelopment associated with changes in neurotrophins as nerve growth factor (NGF), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neuropsychiatric disorders in humans. A rat model of altered prenatal brain development resembling the onset of schizophrenia has been obtained by administering in fetus methylazoxymethanol (MAM) at gestational day 12 which impairs the growth of limbic pathways between the entorhinal cortex and the hippocampus. Using the MAM model we studied in young rats the brain levels of both NGF/BDNF and their main receptors, TrkA/TrkB, to investigate whether or not changes in neurotrophins could affect the presence of brain BrdU positive cells. We found increased NGF and BDNF protein levels, associated with elevated TrkA and TrkB expression, in the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, olfactory lobes and subventricular zone (SVZ), brain areas playing a key role in the production and migration of new dividing cells. We also found higher levels of BrdU positive cells in the SVZ and hippocampus but not a significant potentiation in the entorhinal cortex and olfactory lobes. All together the findings indicate that prenatal MAM exposure in young rats may elicit both neurotrophins' elevation and cell proliferation in limbic brain areas.

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    • "With hippocampal volumes, enriched animals did not increase at a higher rate than non-enriched, but MAM animals did increase faster than controls. This may reflect a form of compensatory neurogenesis, as hypothesized in an E12 MAM exposure model [32], and a promising demonstration that the brain is plastic and imbued with the capacity to recover, at least in part, from early life damage. "
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    ABSTRACT: Rats exposed during prenatal life to methylazoxymethanol (MAM) display in postnatal age structural and behavioral deficits resembling those observed in schizophrenic patients. These deficits are associated with significant changes in brain nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), particularly in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. In the present study, we used the MAM model to investigate in young rats the effect of antipsychotics, Clozapine and Haloperidol, on brain and blood NGF and BDNF presence. Young animals were used because administration of antipsychotics during adolescence is a common feature of intervention. The results showed that administration of Clozapine and Haloperidol causes significant changes in the concentration of NGF and BDNF in the brain and bloodstream of MAM-treated rats. These findings indicate that these drugs may affect the synthesis and release of neurotrophins in the central nervous system and in the blood circulation. In addition, the MAM model can be a useful tool to investigate the biochemical and molecular mechanisms regarding the effects of antipsychotics.
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