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Brain Res. 1981 Jan 5;204(1):129-46.

Suppression of active sleep by chronic treatment with chlorimipramine during early postnatal development: effects upon adult sleep and behavior in the rat.


In an attempt to study the possible role of active sleep in brain development, male rats were injected twice daily with chlorimipramine, a potent monoamine reuptake blocker, from 1 week to 3 weeks of postnatal age. AS was reduced to less than 10% of total sleep time, the level found in mature rats. Most of the AS reduction was compensated for by quiet sleep but a slight increase in wakefulness also occurred, owing to brief interruptions of sleep at times when AS was expected. In adulthood, the AS-deprived rats showed a higher percentage of AS than did the controls, due to an increase in frequency and duration of AS epochs. Moreover, many of the epochs contained abnormally frequent and strong jerky body movements and rapid-eye-movements, reminiscent of neonatal AS patterns. In addition, the amplitude of hippocampal theta waves during AS was greater than in control rats. The chlorimipramine-treated rats also showed behavioral abnormalities in later life. On the open field test exploratory behavior was much reduced, while increased rearing and defecation occurred. Masculine sexual performance was severely deficient, primarily due to the low level of intromissions and ejaculations. Experimental animals performed less efficiently than controls on a temporal learning task (differential reinforcement of low response rate) and responded more rapidly on a spatial task (left-right alternation learning). These results demonstrate that early interference with the functioning of monoaminergic systems can have long-lasting physiological and behavioral consequences. Furthermore, they are consistent with the hypothesis that AS is an important factor in normal brain development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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