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Behav Brain Res. 2014 May 15;265:142-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2014.02.031. Epub 2014 Feb 28.

Maternal exposure to fluoxetine during gestation and lactation affects the DNA methylation programming of rat's offspring: modulation by folic acid supplementation.

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Universidade Norte do Paraná (UNOPAR), Brazil.
Universidade Estadual de Londrina (UEL), Brazil.
Universidade Norte do Paraná (UNOPAR), Brazil. Electronic address:


Fluoxetine is an antidepressant that has been largely used for treatment of depression in pregnancy. In the present study we evaluated the effects of the exposure to fluoxetine during gestation and lactation on DNA methylation of rat brain regions. Female Wistar rats were treated with 5mg/kg of fluoxetine during pregnancy and lactation. In order to assess the effects of fluoxetine in the context of maternal folic acid supplementation we performed an additional combined treatment composed by folic acid (8 mg/kg/day) and fluoxetine (5 mg/kg/day). On the postnatal day 22, male rats were euthanized and hippocampus, cortex, hypothalamus, and periaqueductal gray area were removed. Global DNA methylation was quantified using a high-throughput ELISA-based method. Neurofunctional changes were addressed using validated behavioral tests: hot plate, elevated plus maze and open field. A decrease in the global DNA methylation profile of hippocampus was associated to the exposure to fluoxetine, whereas an increase in methylation was observed in cortex. The combined treatment induced an increase in the methylation of hippocampus indicating the potential of folic acid to modulate this epigenetic alteration. Increase in the latency to the thermal nociceptive response was observed in animals exposed to fluoxetine whereas this effect was abolished in animals from the combined treatment. In summary we demonstrated that exposure to fluoxetine during gestation and lactation affect the DNA methylation of brain and the nociceptive response of rats. Furthermore our data reveal the potential of folic acid to modulate epigenetic and functional changes induced by early exposure to fluoxetine.


DNA methylation; Epigenetics; Fluoxetine; Folic acid

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