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Neonatal nociceptive stimulation results in pain sensitization, reduction of hippocampal 5-HT 1A receptor, and p-CREB expression in adult female rats.

Painful invasive procedures are often performed on newborns admitted to intensive care units (ICU). The acute and long-term effects caused by these stimuli can be investigated in animal models, such as newborn rats. Previous studies have shown that animals subjected to nociceptive stimuli in the neonatal period show sex-specific behavioral changes such as signs of anxiety or depression. Under the same conditions, neonatal stimuli also provoke an increase in the rate of neurogenesis and cell activation in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. So, this study aims to identify the possible roles of central monoamines, receptor expression (5-HT1A ), and signaling factors (p-CREB) underlying the long-term effects of neonatal nociceptive stimulation. For this, noxious stimulation was induced by intra-plantar injection of Complete Freund´s adjuvant (CFA) on the postnatal day 1 (P1) or 8 (P8). Control animals were not stimulated. On P75 the behavioral tests were conducted (hotplate and elevated plus maze), followed by sacrifice and molecular studies. Our results showed that neonatal nociceptive stimulation alters pain sensitization specially in females, while stimulation on P1 increases pain threshold, P8-stimulated animals respond with reduced pain threshold (P < 0.001). Hippocampal expression of 5-HT1A receptor and p-CREB were reduced in P8 F group (P < 0.001) in opposition to the increased utilization rate of dopamine and serotonin in this group (P < 0.05). This study shows sex- and age-specific responses of signaling pathways within the hippocampus accompanied by altered behavioral repertoire, at long-term after neonatal painful stimulation.

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