Control animals showed a normal increase in nitric oxide synthase, while animals of mothers exposed to either of the two stressors during pregnancy failed to show this response.
"This finding shows that chronic stress experienced by mother rats during pregnancy may interfere with the normal development of the signaling system known to be important for communication between the stress and immune systems," says Richardson.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as Prozac are increasingly being used to treat psychiatric conditions in children and pregnant women, yet little is known about their effects on the developing nervous system. New research by Mark Ansorge, PhD; Mingming Zhou, PhD; Alena Lira, BS; Rene Hen, PhD; and Jay Gingrich, PhD, at Columbia University describes the effects of SSRI use during early development on the emotional behaviors of adult mice. The work will be published in Science October 29.
Serotonin is most commonly known for its role as a neurotransmitter that has an influence on mood, anxiety, aggression, sleep, appetite, and cognition. During early life, serotonin also aids in brain development, in such processes as division, differentiation, and migration of neurons and development of connections between neurons. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors work by blocking the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) and thus enhancing serotonin transmission.