Psychiatric diseases may often represent the consequence of exposure to adverse events early in life. Accordingly, exposure to stress during gestation in rats has a strong impact on development and can cause long-term abnormalities in adult behavior. Considering that neuronal plasticity has emerged as a major vulnerability element in psychiatric disorders, we investigated the postnatal developmental profile of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor expression (BDNF), an important mediator for long-term functional deterioration associated to mental illness, in male and female rats following exposure to prenatal stress (PNS). Since we found that the majority of alterations became fully manifest at early adulthood, we tried to prevent these abnormalities with an early pharmacological intervention. To address this point, we treated rats during adolescence with the multi-receptor antipsychotic lurasidone, which was proven to be effective in animal models of schizophrenia. Interestingly, we show that lurasidone treatment was able to prevent the reduction of BDNF expression in adult rats that were exposed to PNS. Collectively, our results provide further support to the notion that exposure to early life stress has a negative impact on neuronal plasticity and that pharmacological intervention during critical time windows may prove effective in preventing neuroplastic dysfunction, leading to long-term beneficial effects on brain function.
Keywords: BDNF; Gestational stress; Lurasidone; Postnatal development.
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