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Teratology. 1985 Feb;31(1):1-12.

Moderate prenatal carbon monoxide exposure produces persistent, and apparently permanent, memory deficits in rats.


The effects of moderate (150 +/- 2 ppm) prenatal carbon monoxide (CO) exposure (maternal HbCO concentrations of 15.6 +/- 1.1%) on learning and memory were assessed in young and aged adult rats using a two-way active avoidance paradigm. In experiment 1, the prenatal CO-exposed rats at 120 days of age acquired a conditioned avoidance response equally well as control animals in a 100-trial session. However, following a 24-hr interval the CO-exposed rats failed to demonstrate significant retention of the task as indicated by the absence of significant improvement in performance over the indicated by the absence of significant improvement in performance over the previous day; control subjects did show significant retention. In experiment 2, in which 120-day-old animals received 50 training trials per day until a criterion of ten consecutive avoidance responses was met, the prenatal CO-exposed subjects again acquired the task as well as control animals. When tested for retention 28 days later, a significant memory impairment was again observed in terms of trials required to reattain the avoidance criterion as well as in total percent avoidance responding. In neither experiment did an analysis of initial or average latency to escape the footshock stimulus reveal any significant alterations. These latter results suggest that the observed performance impairment reflected a memory deficit and not a disruption of sensory, motor, or motivational factors. In experiment 3, prenatal CO-exposed rats approximately 1 year of age (300-360 days of age) showed impairment relative to air-exposed controls in both the original learning and retention of the two-way avoidance response. Again, however, there was no evidence for alterations in performance factors per se. Collectively these data indicate that while young adult rats prenatally exposed to 150 ppm CO demonstrate an associative deficit restricted to memory impairment, aged adults similarly exposed during the prenatal period display a more pronounced deficit similar to that recently reported for animals tested as juveniles. The importance of parametric manipulations in uncovering long-term toxicity is also discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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