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Environmental enrichment modulation in the oxytocin system: ethanol exposure effects on maternal behavior and offspring social interaction

Grant number: 22/08743-1
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2023
Effective date (End): April 30, 2025
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Pharmacology - Neuropsychopharmacology
Principal Investigator:Rosana Camarini
Grantee:Priscila Marianno
Host Institution: Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas (ICB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Ethanol consumption during pregnancy is a serious public health problem, given that the drug cross the placental barrier and affect embryo-fetal development. In addition to the direct effects of exposure to ethanol on the fetus, consumption during pregnancy can also interfere with the care that the mother expresses with the offspring, as the drug seems to interrupt the interaction between them, probably by reducing the maternal release of oxytocin (OT). Environmental enrichment (EE) during pregnancy, on the other hand, can increase behaviors aimed at puppies, since it has been shown to be able to modulate the oxytocinergic system. The aim of the study is to evaluate the effects of exposure to EE (3h/day) during pregnancy, on alcohol-induced deficits in maternal behavior and in the development of offspring, as well as the mechanisms induced by EE in the oxytocin system. For this, female Swiss mice will be divided into groups according to the housing conditions during pregnancy (standard or EE) and treatment (water or ethanol - 3 g/kg; gavage). The role of the oxytocin system in the mechanisms of EE during pregnancy will be evaluated through measurements of central and peripheral concentrations of OT, estradiol and BDNF of these females. The effects of oxytocin system modulation in maternal care will be investigated through the overexpression of the OT receptor in the medial preoptic area of the hypothalamus (MPOA). Finally, maternal behavior and the social interaction of the offspring will be analyzed after intranasal administration of OT in dams treated with ethanol.

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