Perinatal asphyxia results in changes in presynaptic bouton number in striatum and cerebral cortex-a stereological and behavioral analysis

J Chem Neuroanat. 2000 Oct;20(1):71-82. doi: 10.1016/s0891-0618(00)00078-8.


Deficits in cognitive function have been related to quantitative changes in synaptic population, particularly in the cerebral cortex. Here, we used an established model of perinatal asphyxia that induces morphological changes, i.e. neuron loss in the cerebral cortex and striatum, as well as behavioural deficits. We hypothesized that perinatal asphyxia may lead to a neurodegenerative process resulting in cognitive impairment and altered presynaptic bouton numbers in adult rats. We studied cognitive performance at 18 months and presynaptic bouton numbers at 22 months following perinatal asphyxia. Data of the spatial Morris water escape task did not reveal clear memory or learning deficits in aged asphyctic rats compared to aged control rats. However, a memory impairment in aged rats versus young rats was observed, which was more pronounced in asphyctic rats. We found an increase in presynaptic bouton density in the parietal cortex, whereas no changes were found in striatum and frontal cortex in asphyctic rats. An increase of striatal volume was observed in asphyctic rats, leading to an increase in presynaptic bouton numbers in this area. These findings stress the issue that volume measurements have to be taken into account when determining presynaptic bouton density. Furthermore, perinatal asphyxia led to region-specific changes in presynaptic bouton numbers and it worsened the age-related cognitive impairment. These results suggest that perinatal asphyxia induced neuronal loss, which is compensated for by an increase in presynaptic bouton numbers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Asphyxia / pathology*
  • Asphyxia / psychology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Neostriatum / pathology*
  • Perfusion
  • Pregnancy
  • Presynaptic Terminals / pathology*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reproducibility of Results