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Pediatr Res. 2012 Jun;71(6):661-7. doi: 10.1038/pr.2012.18. Epub 2012 Feb 14.

Repeated courses of antenatal corticosteroids have adverse effects on aspects of brain development in naturally delivered baboon infants.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



Repeated courses of antenatal steroids in women at risk of preterm delivery have beneficial effects on lung maturation, but concern exists about the effects on brain development. We aimed to determine whether repeated courses of corticosteroids increased the risk of neuropathology as compared with single courses or no treatment.


Single-course animals received a 6-mg dose of steroids at 123 and 124 d of gestation (dg; term, 185 dg; n = 6). Repeated-course animals received additional doses at 137 and 138 dg (n = 7). Controls received no steroids (n = 5). Baboons delivered naturally at term and necropsy was performed. Brains were assessed histologically for parameters of development and neuropathology.


Body weights did not differ between the groups (P > 0.05); neither did brain/body weight ratio. Density of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-immunoreactive (IR) astrocytes in white matter (WM) was increased in the single- (P < 0.05) and repeated-course (P < 0.01) groups as compared with controls. Density of myelin basic protein (MBP)-IR oligodendrocytes was reduced in the repeated-course animals as compared with both the control and single-course groups (P < 0.05); oligodendrocyte transcription factor 2 (Olig2)-IR showed no difference between groups.


Repeated courses of antenatal corticosteroids have effects on myelination in the developing nonhuman primate brain, which should be taken into account when determining a dosing regimen.

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