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Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Sep;14(6):1030-4.

Strain differences in the behavioural outcome of neonatal ventral hippocampal lesions are determined by the postnatal environment and not genetic factors.

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  • 1Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, 6875 LaSalle Blvd, Verdun, Quebec H4H 1R3, Canada.


It has been demonstrated that not only do rats neonatally lesioned in the ventral hippocampus (VH) develop behavioural hypersensitivity to amphetamine postpubertally, but also that the expression of the sensitivity is strain specific. For example, excitotoxic VH lesions at postnatal day (PD) 7 lead to significant increases in amphetamine-induced locomotion in postpubertal Fischer rats, but not in Lewis rats. However, as it is likely that the effect of strain differences are due to a combination of genetics and environment, we examined the contributions of the environment of the pups in determining the behavioural outcome following neonatal VH lesions. Fisher and Lewis rat pups were cross-fostered at birth, and then at PD7 lesioned bilaterally in the VH with ibotenic acid. ANOVA analysis of postpubertal amphetamine-induced locomotor data revealed a significant effect of the strain of the dams raising the pups but no effect of the strain of the pup. In addition, a post hoc analysis revealed that lesioned Fisher or Lewis rats raised by Fisher, but not those raised by Lewis, dams demonstrated amphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion relative to nonlesioned controls. Observations of the maternal behaviour of Fischer and Lewis dams revealed significant differences in the frequency of arched-back nursing between the two strains. Interestingly, a correlation of the frequency of arched back nursing vs novelty- or amphetamine-induced locomotion revealed that the lesioned rats were significantly more affected by increases in arched-back nursing compared to the controls. The results suggest that the genetic background of the pups does not significantly affect the behavioural outcome following neonatal VH lesions; however, the results do suggest an important role of early environmental variables on the behavioural outcome of neonatal VH lesions.

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