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Brain Res Bull. 1993;31(3-4):353-9.

Selective effects on CRF neurons and catecholamine terminals in two stress-responsive regions of adult rat brain after prenatal exposure to diazepam.

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Department of Neurobiology, University of Rochester, NY 14627.


Earlier work demonstrated that prenatal exposure to diazepam (DZ) selectively affected the noradrenergic (NE) terminals in the hypothalamus, leading to decreased basal NE levels, turnover rate, and release in adult offspring as well as altered responses to stressors in these NE projections. The exposure also affected plasma hormonal responses to stressors. In the present work, we used immunocytochemistry to study the effects of prenatal DZ exposure on NE terminals and on corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-containing neurons in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. DZ exposure (2.5 or 10 mg/kg over gestational days 14-20) led to a decrease in dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DBH)-immunoreactivity (-ir) and a decrease in CRF-ir containing cells within the PVN of adult rats. The exposure also decreased DBH-ir in the ventral portion of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) but did not affect CRF-ir in the oval nucleus of BNST. Therefore, this study provides anatomic evidence that targeting benzodiazepine binding sites prenatally affects two neurotransmitter systems involved in responses to stressors.

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