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Pediatr Res. 2011 Jul;70(1):15-20. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e31821b98a3.

Sex-specific cognitive deficits and regional brain volume loss in mice exposed to chronic, sublethal hypoxia.

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Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Male sex is an independent risk factor for long-term neurologic deficits in human preterm infants. Using a chronic, sublethal hypoxia (CSH) mouse model of preterm brain injury, we recently demonstrated acute brain volume loss with an increased male susceptibility to hippocampal volume loss and hypomyelination. We now characterize the long-term, sex-specific effects of CSH on cognition and brain growth. Neonatal mice were treated with CSH for 8 d, raised in normoxia thereafter and underwent behavioral testing at 6 wk of age. Behavioral assays sensitive to hippocampal function were chosen. CSH-treated males had impairments in associative learning, spatial memory, and long-term social memory compared with control males. In contrast, CSH-treated females were less impaired. Persistent reductions in hippocampal and cerebellar volumes were found in adult CSH-treated males, whereas regional brain volumes in adult CSH-treated females were indistinguishable from controls. Similar to human preterm infants, males exposed to hypoxia are especially vulnerable to short-term and long-term deficits in cognition and brain growth.

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