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Life Sci. 1988;42(10):1059-65.

Prenatal stress increases anxiety related behavior and alters cerebral lateralization of dopamine activity.

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  • 1Dept. of Pharmacology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.


Effects of unpredictable (random) prenatal stress on the level of anxiety and cerebral lateralization of dopamine turnover rates were studied in rats. The observation of a decrease in the amount of time spent in the open arms of a "plus-maze" supported earlier findings of an increased fearfulness to stressful situations in the offspring in adulthood. We also observed elevated rates of dopamine turnover in the right prefrontal cortex and reduced dopamine activity in the right nucleus accumbens and left corpus striatum of the prenatally stressed animals. This resulted in directional shifts of left-right differences in dopamine activity in all 3 areas. These findings indicate that prenatal stress induces permanent alterations in dopaminergic activity and in cerebral asymmetry. We suggest that the changes in cerebral lateralization of dopamine function may underly the increase in reactivity to anxiety-provoking situations in prenatally stressed offspring.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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