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Addict Biol. 2008 Mar;13(1):52-62. Epub 2007 Sep 11.

Teratogenic effects of maternal antidepressant exposure on neural substrates of drug-seeking behavior in offspring.

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Department of Psychology, Boston College, USA.


If neurotransmitter balance is upset in the developing nervous system by exposure to antidepressant drugs, structural and functional hedonic phenotypes of offspring may be affected. In order to test this hypothesis, two groups of pregnant Wistar dams were exposed to vehicle or fluoxetine by implantation on gestational day 14 of osmotic minipumps delivering 0 or 10 mg/kg/day fluoxetine for 14 days. The consequences of perinatal fluoxetine exposure on offspring conflict-exploratory behavior were quantified using the elevated plus-maze on postnatal day (PND) 30. Beginning on PND 60, the reinforcing properties of acutely administered cocaine were examined using a place conditioning procedure. Beginning on PND 90, a subset of rats were implanted with jugular catheters and allowed to acquire self-administration of cocaine in an operant environment. In support of the hedonic modulation hypothesis, perinatal fluoxetine produced a significant decline in both nucleus accumbens cell count (-9%) and serotonin transporter-like immunoreactivity in the raphe nucleus (-35%) on PND 120. In the elevated plus-maze, perinatal fluoxetine exposure decreased (-21%) overall activity. In the place conditioning trial, only the fluoxetine-treated group exhibited a significant place preference for the compartment paired previously with cocaine. In a cocaine self-administration extinction trial, there was a statistically significant increase (350%) in extinction response rate among fluoxetine-exposed offspring. These findings suggest that perinatal exposure to fluoxetine perturbs adult serotonergic neurotransmission and produces a positive hedonic shift for conditioned reinforcing effects of cocaine.

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