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Research Article

Vol. 3 No. 1 (1997)

Anoxia at Birth Induces Behaviorally-Relevant Changes in alpha2-Noradrenergic Receptor Binding in the Adult Rat

  • Wayne G. Brake
  • Shakti Sharma
November 7, 2020


Evidence suggests that Caesarean section birth in the rat, with or without an additional period of anoxia, results in long-term changes in brain catecholamine levels as well as reactivity to stress. The purpose of the present investigation was to determine whether Caesarean birth plus anoxia alters (alpha)2-noradrenergic receptor binding and sensitivity to the (alpha)2 receptor agonist, clonidine, in the Porsolt forced swim test. Sprague Dawley rat dams were decapitated and the uteruses were removed by Caesarean section. Pups were then delivered either immediately (Caesarean Only group), or were immersed in a saline bath for approximately 15 minutes (Caesarean plus Anoxia group) before delivery of the pups. A third group of animals born vaginally served as controls (Vaginally-born group). Four to five months postnatally, the expression of (alpha)2 receptors was measured by receptor autoradiography using [3H]-Rauwolscine binding. Receptor binding was increased in the area of the ventral hypothalamus and decreased in the CA1 region of the hippocampus in animals subjected to Caesarean plus Anoxia at birth. These animals also displayed a subsensitive response to the immobilizing effects of clonidine (100 micrograms/kg, i.p.) in the Porsolt forced swim test. Specifically these data show that Caesarean birth produces long-term changes in (alpha)2 receptor density and that, in animals subjected to Caesarean plus anoxia, these changes are reflected in a behavioral subsensitivity to the (alpha)2 agonist, clonidine. The findings reported here provide further experimental support for the hypothesis that birth complications may contribute to the pathophysiology of disorders such as schizophrenia that involve central catecholamine dysfunction.


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