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Nutr Neurosci. 2015 Oct;18(7):307-15. doi: 10.1179/1476830514Y.0000000128. Epub 2014 May 12.

Brain effects of the lectin from Canavalia ensiformis in adult rats previously suckled in favorable and unfavorable conditions: A spreading depression and microglia immunolabeling study.



To evaluate in adult rats, previously suckled under favorable and unfavorable conditions, the brain electrophysiological and microglial effects of the treatment early in life with the lectin (ConA) from Canavalia ensiformis.


Male Wistar newborn rats (n = 89) were suckled under favorable or unfavorable conditions, represented by litters with 6-7 pups or 12-14 pups (groups N6 and N12, respectively). From postnatal days 5-24, they were treated intraperitoneally with 1 or 10 mg/kg ConA (groups L1 and L10, respectively), or with saline solution (group Sal), or no treatment (group Naïve). At 90-120 days of age, cortical spreading depression (CSD) was recorded at two parietal points for 4 hours, and CSD parameters (velocity of propagation and amplitude and duration of the DC slow potential change) were measured. Fixative-perfused brain sections were reacted with anti-Iba1 antibodies to quantify immunolabeled microglia.


Compared with the control groups, ConA-treated animals dose-dependently presented with reduced CSD propagation velocities and increased amplitude and duration of the CSD slow potential change. Microglia Iba-1 immunoreactivity was lower in both nutritional groups treated with ConA, in comparison with the control groups. The CSD hemisphere presented with higher immunoreactivity compared with the CSD-free hemisphere.


Attenuation in CSD propagation and microglia reaction was associated in adulthood with ConA treatment during brain development, indicating that the lectin can affect the electrophysiological and microglial development, and suggesting long-lasting protective action of the lectin on the rat brain, which is not impeded by the unfavorable suckling condition.


Brain electrophysiology; ConA; Lectin; Microglia; Nutritional state

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