Long-term effects of late gestational maternal hypoxic stress on neurodegeneration: Sex and age differences




Wilson, Elizabeth
Mabry, Steve
Rybalchenko, Nataliya
Engelland, Rachel
Fadeyibi, Oluwadarasimi
Osikoya, Oluwatobiloba
Cushen, Spencer
Goulopoulou, Styliani
Cunningham, Rebecca


0000-0001-6119-7597 (Wilson, Elizabeth)

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Introduction: In utero insults can lead to onset of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease (PD). In utero hypoxic insults are associated with maternal sleep apnea or preeclampsia. It is unknown whether late gestational maternal hypoxic insults have long-term effects on brain regions associated with PD, such as the nigrostriatal pathway. We hypothesized that late gestational maternal hypoxia will result in sustained nigrostriatal impairment in male and female progeny. Methods: Timed pregnant Long-Evans rats were exposed to five days (gestational days: 15-20) of chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) or room air (normoxia 21% O2) for 8 hours during their sleep phase. Each CIH cycle was 6 min of alternating 3 min hypoxia (10% O2) and normoxia (21% O2) totaling 10 CIH cycles/hour. Gestational age and biometrics were recorded 12-16 hours after birth. At postnatal day, PND 28, progeny were pair-housed with a conspecific of the same sex and similar weight. We focused on PD associated oxidative stress and behavioral impairments in the nigrostriatal pathway. Gross motor (open field), fine motor (ultrasonic vocalizations), and cognition (spatial memory) were examined during puberty and young adulthood. Results: Maternal CIH had no effect on gestational age, progeny biometrics, or progeny circulating oxidative stress. Gross motor and cognitive functions were unaffected by maternal CIH. However, a sustained fine motor impairment was observed in both male and female progeny. Conclusion: Maternal hypoxia during late gestation induced sustained nigrostriatal pathway impairment, which may increase the risk for neurodegeneration.