Effect of hindlimb unloading on motor activity in adult rats: Impact of prenatal stress.
Behavioral Neuroscience. 2007-01-01; 121(1): 177-185
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Environmental changes that occur in daily life or, in particular, in situations like actual or simulated microgravity require neuronal adaptation of sensory and motor functions. Such conditions can exert long-lasting disturbances on an individual’s adaptive ability. Additionally, prenatal stress also leads to behavioral and physiological abnormalities in adulthood. Therefore, the aims of the present study were (a) to evaluate in adult rats the behavioral motor adaptation that follows 14 days of exposure to simulated microgravity (hindlimb unloading) and (b) to determine whether restraint prenatal stress influences this motor adaptation. For this purpose, the authors assessed rats’ motor reactivity to novelty, their skilled walking on a ladder, and their swimming performance.
Results showed that unloading severely impaired motor activity and skilled walking. By contrast, it had no effect on swimming performance. Moreover, results demonstrated for the first time that restraint prenatal stress exacerbates the effects of unloading. These results are consistent with the role of a steady prenatal environment in allowing an adequate development and maturation of sensorimotor systems to generate adapted responses to environmental challenges during adulthood.