, Volume 27, Issue 11, pp 1525-1533

Long-Term Effects of Prenatal Stress on Dopamine and Glutamate Receptors in Adult Rat Brain

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Prenatal stress greatly influences the ability of an individual to manage stressful events in adulthood. Such vulnerability may result from abnormalities in the development and integration of forebrain dopaminergic and glutamatergic projections during the prenatal period. In this study, we assessed the effects of prenatal stress on the expression of selective dopamine and glutamate receptor subtypes in the adult offsprings of rats subjected to repeated restraint stress during the last week of pregnancy. Dopamine D2-like receptors increased in dorsal frontal cortex (DFC), medial prefrontal cortex (MPC), hippocampal CA1 region and core region of nucleus accumbens (NAc) of prenatally stressed rats compared to control subjects. Glutamate NMDA receptors increased in MPC, DFC, hippocampal CA1, medial caudate-putamen, as well as in shell and core regions of NAc. Group III metabotropic glutamate receptors increased in MPC and DFC of prenatally stressed rats, but remained unchanged in all other regions examined. These results indicate that stress suffered during the gestational period has long lasting effects that extend into the adulthood of prenatally stressed offsprings. Changes in dopamine and glutamate receptor subtype levels in different forebrain regions of adult rats suggest that the development and formation of the corticostriatal and corticolimbic pathways may be permanently altered as a result of stress suffered prenatally. Maldevelopment of these pathways may provide a neurobiological substrate for the development of schizophrenia and other idiopathic psychotic disorders.