Maternal melatonin plays a pivotal role in providing photoperiodic information to the fetus and by that influencing the regulation and timing of internal rhythms of the offspring and their preparation for extrauterine life. Maternal melatonin deprivation (mainly caused by nightwork and shift work) during pregnancy and lactation has negative health consequences for the offspring that continue into adulthood (e.g. altered energy metabolism). My phD results provide evidences maternal melatonin deprivation (hypomelatonin induced by pinealectmy) during gestation and lactation leads to delay in the development of physical signs, neurological reflexes and impaired hippocampus-dependent learning in adult offspring. The restoration of the maternal plasma melatonin rhythm prevents these developmental delays and cognitive disruption. The next step will be to elucidade by which mechanisms this fenomena takes place. Melatonin is multifaceted molecule that plays a role as an endocrine modulator, immunomodulator, direct free radical scavenger and indirect antioxidant. In consequence, its absence might cause long-term effects in the offspring. Nonetheless, little is known about maternal melatonin deprivation on the development of neuroimmune system and adult neurogenesis. We aim to investigate if maternal hypomelatonin could lead to changes in neuroendocrine and neuroimmune pathways that have a role in shaping neuronal development and subsequently altering function and behavior. Particularly focusing on adult neurogenesis, melatonin, glucocorticoids and the activity of neuroimmune cells in the hippocampus.
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