Neonatal exposure to permethrin pesticide causes lifelong fear and spatial learning deficits and alters hippocampal morphology of synapses

Cinzia Nasuti, Patrizia Fattoretti, Manuel Carloni, Donatella Fedeli, Massimo Ubaldi, Roberto Ciccocioppo, Rosita Gabbianelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: During the neurodevelopmental period, the brain is potentially more susceptible to environmental exposure to pollutants. The aim was to determine if neonatal exposure to permethrin (PERM) pesticide, at a low dosage that does not produce signs of obvious abnormalities, could represent a risk for the onset of diseases later in the life. Methods: Neonatal rats (from postnatal day 6 to 21) were treated daily by gavage with a dose of PERM (34 mg/kg) close to the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL), and hippocampal morphology and function of synapses were investigated in adulthood. Fear conditioning, passive avoidance and Morris water maze tests were used to assess cognitive skills in rats, whereas electron microscopy analysis was used to investigate hippocampal morphological changes that occurred in adults. Results: In both contextual and tone fear conditioning tests, PERM-treated rats showed a decreased freezing. In the passive avoidance test, the consolidation of the inhibitory avoidance was time-limited: the memory was not impaired for the first 24 h, whereas the information was not retained 72 h following training. The same trend was observed in the spatial reference memories acquired by Morris water maze. In PERM-treated rats, electron microscopy analysis revealed a decrease of synapses and surface densities in the stratum moleculare of CA1, in the inner molecular layer of the dentate gyrus and in the mossy fibers of the hippocampal areas together with a decrease of perforated synapses in the stratum moleculare of CA1 and in the inner molecular layer of the dentate gyrus. Conclusions: Early-life permethrin exposure imparts long-lasting consequences on the hippocampus such as impairment of long-term memory storage and synaptic morphology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalJournal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 29 2014

Keywords

  • Fear conditioning
  • Hippocampus
  • Neonatal exposure
  • Permethrin
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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