Memantine rescues prenatal citalopram exposure-induced striatal and social abnormalities in mice

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Prenatal exposure to citalopram (CTM), an antidepressant drug, has been associated with altered behavior, including autism-like symptoms in both human and rodent offspring. However, the neurological basis underlying these abnormal behaviors is not well understood. Here, we examined behavioral, morphological, and biochemical alterations in the male and female offspring of C57BL/6 mouse mothers that had been exposed to CTM during the last trimester of gestation. We observed abnormal behavior such as anxiety, altered locomotion and disordered social interactions in 2–5 months old offspring with prenatal CTM exposure. Using Golgi-Cox staining, we found that CTM caused significantly reduced dendritic length and number of dendritic branches in striatal neurons, as well as altered subunit levels of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII). Memantine, a selective NMDAR antagonist, improved prenatal CTM-induced abnormal protein levels and social interaction deficits. These results highlight potential mechanisms underlying the abnormal behavior observed in children who are prenatally exposed to CTM.HighlightsPrenatal CTM exposure induces social abnormalities in offspring.Morphological alterations in striatum accompany these behavioral changes.Reduction of gamma oscillations, overexpression of NMDAR1 and CaMKIIα in striatum may contribute to the pathophysiology.Memantine ameliorates social deficits and protein expression in offspring.

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