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Postnatal development of rat pups is altered by prenatal methamphetamine exposure.

  • Slamberová, Romana
  • Pometlová, Marie
  • Charousová, Petra
Published Article
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2006
PMID: 16046043


There are studies showing that drug abuse during pregnancy may have impairing effect on progeny of drug-abusing mothers. Methamphetamine (MA) is one of the most common illicit drugs throughout the world. The purpose of the present study was to assess the effect of prenatal MA exposure on postnatal development of rat pups before the time of separation from their mothers. Female rats were injected with MA (5 mg/kg daily) for the duration of their pregnancy. Pups were then tested throughout the lactation period. They were weighed daily and the ano-genital distance was measured on postnatal day (PD) 1. Development of postural motor reaction was tested by righting reflex on surface between PD 1 and 12, and righting reflex in mid-air after PD 12 until successfully accomplished. On PD 15 homing test was examined as a test of pup acute learning. On PD 23 sensory-motor coordination was examined using the rotarod and bar-holding tests. Additionally, the markers of physical maturation, such as eye opening, testes descent in males and vaginal opening in females were also recorded. The birth weight in prenatally MA-exposed pups was lower than in controls or saline-exposed pups regardless of sex. There were no changes induced by prenatal MA exposure in weight gain or in sexual maturation. In righting reflexes, we demonstrated that pups exposed prenatally to MA were slower in righting reflex on surface and that they accomplished the test of righting reflex in mid-air later than controls or saline-exposed pups. The performance of homing test was not affected by prenatal drug exposure. The sensory-motor coordination was impaired in prenatally MA-exposed pups when testing in the rotarod test. Also, the number of falls in the bar-holding test was higher in MA-exposed pups than in controls. There were no sex differences in any measures. Thus, the present study demonstrated that prenatal MA exposure impairs development of postural motor movements of rat pups during the first 3 weeks after birth, while not affecting physical or sexual maturation.

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