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Pharmacol Res. 1999 Sep;40(3):271-4.

Effects of early postnatal exposure to low concentrations of carbon monoxide on cognitive functions in rats.

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Department of Pharmacology and Human Physiology, Section of Pharmacology, University of Bari*b2Policlinico, Piazza Giulio Cesare, Bari, 70124, Italy.


Male Wistar rats were exposed to 75 and 150 ppm of carbon monoxide (CO) from day 1 after birth until postnatal day 10 and their cognitive functions were evaluated at 3 and 18 months of age. The results show that early postnatal exposure to CO does not affect the acquisition and reacquisition of an active avoidance task in both adult and aged rats. Conversely, our previous findings indicate that prenatal exposure to CO (75 and 150 ppm), resulting in maternal blood carboxyhaemoglobin concentrations equivalent to those found in human cigarette smokers, induces long-lasting learning and memory deficits. These findings suggest that neurofunctional sequelae of prenatal CO exposure are notably different from those occurring in response to early postnatal exposure and that the vulnerability of the developing brain to prolonged, relatively mild, decrease in oxygen availability induced by CO critically depends on the particular period of developmental exposure.

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