Behavioural outcomes of adult female offspring following maternal stress and perinatal fluoxetine exposure

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Depression, anxiety, and stress are common in pregnant women. One of the primary pharmacological treatments for anxiety and depression is the antidepressant fluoxetine (Flx). Maternal stress, depression, and Flx exposure are known to effect neurodevelopment of the offspring, however, their combined effects have been scarcely studied, especially in female offspring. The present study investigated the combined effects of maternal stress during pregnancy and perinatal exposure to Flx on the behaviour of female mice as adults.


Mouse dams were exposed to either chronic unpredictable stress (embryonic (E) day 7 to E18), or FLX (E15- postnatal day 12), or a combination of stress and FLX or left untreated. At two months of age, the female offspring went through a comprehensive behavioural test battery.


Maternal stress led to increased activity and alterations of prepulse inhibition in the adult female offspring. Maternal treatment with Flx had a potentially beneficial effect on spatial memory. The combination of prenatal stress and perinatal Flx exposure did not interact in their effects. These results suggest that gestational Flx exposure may have a limited negative impact on female offspring.

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