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Int J Dev Neurosci. 2011 Feb;29(1):45-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2010.09.008. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Effects of developmental stress and lead (Pb) on corticosterone after chronic and acute stress, brain monoamines, and blood Pb levels in rats.

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  • 1Division of Neurology, Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA.


Despite restrictions, exposure to lead (Pb) continues. Moreover, exposure varies and is often higher in lower socioeconomic status (SES) families and remains a significant risk to cognitive development. Stress is another risk factor. Lower SES may be a proxy for stress in humans. When stress and Pb co-occur, risk may be increased. A few previous experiments have combined Pb with intermittent or acute stress but not with chronic stress. To determine if chronic developmental stress affects outcome in combination with Pb, we tested such effects on growth, organ weight, brain monoamines, and response to an acute stressor. Sprague Dawley rats were gavaged with Pb acetate (1 or 10 mg/kg) or vehicle every other day from postnatal day (P)4-29 and reared in standard or barren cages. Subsets were analyzed at different ages (P11, 19, 29). Chronic stress did not alter blood Pb levels but altered HPA axis response during early development whereas Pb did not. Pb treatment and rearing each altered organ-to-body weight ratios, most notably of thymus weights. Both Pb and rearing resulted in age- and region-dependent changes in serotonin and norepinephrine levels and in dopamine and serotonin turnover. The model introduced here may be useful for investigating the interaction of Pb and chronic developmental stress.

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