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A rat model to study maternal depression during pregnancy and postpartum periods, its comorbidity with cardiovascular diseases and neurodevelopmental impact in the offspring

Czarzasta, Katarzyna, Makowska-Zubrycka, Monika, Kasarello, Kaja, Skital, Veronica M., Tyszkowska, Karolina, Matusik, Katarzyna, Jesion, Anika, Wojciechowska, Malgorzata, Segiet, Agnieszka, Wrzesien, Robert, Biały, Michal, Krzascik, Pawel, Wisłowska-Stanek, Aleksandra, Sajdel-Sulkowska, Elzbieta M.
Physiology & behavior 2019 v.199 pp. 258-264
animal models, antidepressants, brain, cardiovascular diseases, comorbidity, grooming (animal behavior), heart, humans, lactation, mothers, placenta, postpartum period, pregnancy, progeny, rats, risk factors, therapeutics, women
This study aimed to develop an animal model of human depression during pregnancy and lactation to examine the effect of maternal, perinatal depression on offspring development. Maternal depression during pregnancy affects up to 20% of women and is a risk factor for both the developmental and long-term health issues. It is often comorbid with the cardiovascular disease (CVD) that affects the uteroplacental circulation and impacts offspring development. More than half of the expecting mothers with depression use antidepressants that cross the placenta and may interfere with the neurodevelopmental programming. Thus, depressed pregnant mothers face a difficult choice whether “to use or not to use” antidepressant therapy, since both untreated depression and antenatal antidepressant exposure present increased risks of neurodevelopmental pathologies. The ongoing clinical debate presents inconclusive data, while the existing animal models of maternal depression do not include early gestational periods, and, do not monitor depressive-like behavior nor address the cardiovascular abnormalities. The presented model includes pregestational depressive behavior extending into pregnancy and lactation, periods that have not been previously examined. Rat dams exposed to pre-gestational chronic mild stress (CMS) developed a sustained decrease in self-grooming behavior, correlated with hormonal, behavioral, and cardiac changes persisting through the postpartum period. Preliminary data indicate neurodevelopmental delays, behavioral and cardiac abnormalities, and altered levels of both the brain and the heart markers in the offspring of stressed dams. Furthermore, the preliminary data predict that maternal pregnancy during the perinatal period is likely to impact the neurodevelopmental process in a sex-dependent manner. Thus the presented here model (PG-LAC CMS) fulfills both the face and the construct validity criteria for maternal stress-induced depression during pregnancy and postpartum that may facilitate further studies of the relative risks of untreated vs. antidepressant-treated maternal depression during pregnancy to the mother and her offspring.