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Biol Psychiatry. 2006 May 1;59(9):844-52. Epub 2005 Sep 28.

Induction of a hyperanxious state by antenatal dexamethasone: a case for less detrimental natural corticosteroids.

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1
Neuroscience Group, Life and Health Science Research Institute, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Synthetic glucocorticoids are commonly prescribed during pregnancy, despite a lack of systematic investigations of their potential impact on the developing brain and neurological and behavioral performance.

METHODS:

Neuroendocrine parameters and behavior in the adult offspring of pregnant Wistar rats treated antenatally with either dexamethasone (DEX) or corticosterone (CORT) were monitored; DEX (.1 mg/kg and 1 mg/kg) and CORT (25 mg/kg) were given to pregnant rat dams on gestation days 18 and 19.

RESULTS:

Despite normal basal levels of corticosterone, the adult offspring of mothers given DEX or CORT displayed abnormal responses in the dexamethasone-suppression test. Neither treatment influenced spatial memory performance, but both DEX and CORT facilitated development of depression-like behavior following chronic stress. The latter finding demonstrates that high-dose antenatal corticotherapy can impair the organism's resilience to stress in adulthood. Interestingly, comparison of the progeny of CORT-treated and DEX-treated mothers revealed that the latter were more anxious.

CONCLUSIONS:

Since DEX and CORT differ in their affinity for glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors and corticosteroid-binding globulin, our findings emphasize the need to consider the pharmacologic properties of antenatal corticotherapies and demonstrate the potential long-term benefits of ligands that can bind to both receptors.

PMID:
16197924
DOI:
10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.08.020
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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