Neonatal hypoxia impairs serotonin release and cognitive functions in adult mice

Neurobiol Dis. 2024 Apr:193:106465. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2024.106465. Epub 2024 Mar 7.


Children who experienced moderate perinatal asphyxia (MPA) are at risk of developing long lasting subtle cognitive and behavioral deficits, including learning disabilities and emotional problems. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) regulates cognitive flexibility and emotional behavior. Neurons that release serotonin (5-HT) project to the PFC, and compounds modulating 5-HT activity influence emotion and cognition. Whether 5-HT dysregulations contribute to MPA-induced cognitive problems is unknown. We established a MPA mouse model, which displays recognition and spatial memory impairments and dysfunctional cognitive flexibility. We found that 5-HT expression levels, quantified by immunohistochemistry, and 5-HT release, quantified by in vivo microdialysis in awake mice, are reduced in PFC of adult MPA mice. MPA mice also show impaired body temperature regulation following injection of the 5-HT1A receptor agonist 8-OH-DPAT, suggesting the presence of deficits in 5-HT auto-receptor function on raphe neurons. Finally, chronic treatment of adult MPA mice with fluoxetine, an inhibitor of 5-HT reuptake transporter, or the 5-HT1A receptor agonist tandospirone rescues cognitive flexibility and memory impairments. All together, these data demonstrate that the development of 5-HT system function is vulnerable to moderate perinatal asphyxia. 5-HT hypofunction might in turn contribute to long-term cognitive impairment in adulthood, indicating a potential target for pharmacological therapies.

Keywords: 5HT1-A receptor; Cognitive flexibility; Fluoxetine; Hypoxia-induced seizures; Microdyalisis; Neonatal; Serotonin.

MeSH terms

  • 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Asphyxia
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia
  • Mice
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors*
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / pharmacology
  • Serotonin* / metabolism


  • Serotonin
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A
  • Fluoxetine
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin