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Third-party prosocial behavior in adult female rats is impaired after perinatal fluoxetine exposure
- Heinla, Indrek, Heijkoop, Roy, Houwing, Danielle J., Olivier, Jocelien D.A., Snoeren, Eelke M.S.
- Physiology & behavior 2020 v.222 pp. 112899
- adulthood, adults, females, fetal development, males, placenta, pregnancy, pregnant women, progeny, rats, risk, social behavior
- SSRIs are commonly used to treat pregnant women with depression. However, SSRIs can cross the placenta and affect the development of the fetus. The effects of perinatal SSRI exposure, and especially the effects on social behavior, are still incompletely documented. This study first aims to investigate whether rats show prosocial behavior in the form of consolation behavior. Secondly, it aims to investigate whether perinatal SSRI exposure affects this prosocial behavior. At last, we investigate whether the behavior changed after the rats had been exposed to an additional white-noise stressor.Rat dams received 10 mg/kg/d fluoxetine (FLX) or vehicle (CTR) via oral gavage from gestational day 1 until postnatal day 21. At adulthood, the rat offspring were housed in four cohorts of 4 females and 4 males in a seminatural environment. As prosocial behaviors are more prominent after stressful situations, we investigated the behavioral response of rats immediately after natural aggressive encounters (fights). Additionally, we studied whether a stressful white-noise exposure would alter this response to the aggressive encounters.Our study indicates that CTR-female rats are able to show third party prosocial behavior in response to witnessing aggressive encounters between conspecifics in a seminatural environment. In addition, we showed that perinatal FLX exposure impairs the display of prosocial behavior in female rats. Moreover, we found no signs of prosocial behavior in CTR- and FLX-males after natural aggressive encounters. After white-noise exposure the effects in third party prosocial behavior of CTR-females ceased to exist. We conclude that female rats are able to show prosocial behavior, possibly in the form of consolation behavior. In addition, the negative effects of perinatal fluoxetine exposure on prosocial behavior could provide additional evidence that SSRI treatment during pregnancy could contribute to the risk for social impairments in the offspring.