The International Journal of Romanian Society of Endocrinology / Registered in 1938

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July - September 2018, Volume 14, Issue 3
General Endocrinology

Panaitescu AM, Isac S, Pavel B, Ilie AS, Creanga M, Totan A, Zagrean L, Peltecu G, Zagrean AM

Oxytocin Reduces Seizure Burden and Hippocampal Injury in a Rat Model of Perinatal Asphyxia

Acta Endo (Buc) 2018, 14 (3): 315-319
doi: 10.4183/aeb.2018.315

Context. Foetal asphyxia, a frequent birth complication, detrimentally impacts the immature brain, resulting in neuronal damage, uncontrolled seizure activity and long-term neurological deficits. Oxytocin, a neurohormone mediating important materno-foetal interactions and parturition, has been previously suggested to modulate the immature brain’s excitability, playing a neuroprotective role. Our aim was to investigate the effects of exogenous oxytocin administration on seizure burden and acute brain injury in a perinatal model of asphyxia in rats. Animals and methods. Asphyxia was modelled by exposing immature rats to a 90-minute episode of low oxygen (9% O2) and high CO2 (20% CO2). Control rats were kept in ambient room-air for the same time interval. In a third group of experiments, oxytocin (0.02 UI/g body weight) was nasally administered 30 minutes before the asphyxia episode. Seizure burden was assessed by the cumulative number of loss of righting reflex (LRR) over a two-hour postexposure period. Acute brain injury was assessed through hippocampal S-100 beta, a biomarker of cellular injury, 24-hours after exposure. Results. Asphyxia increased both LRR and hippocampal S-100 beta protein compared to controls, and these effects were significantly reduced by oxytocin administration. Conclusion. Oxytocin treatment decreased both seizure burden and hippocampal injury, supporting a potential neuroprotective role for oxytocin in perinatal asphyxia.

Keywords: perinatal asphyxia, oxytocin, hippocampus, S100B, loss of righting reflex

Correspondence: Ana-Maria Zagrean MD, “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy - Physiology and Neuroscience, 8 Eroilor Sanitari Blvd., Bucharest, 020021, Romania, E-mail: