Background In a recent publication, we described neurodegeneration along with neurotransmitter deficits and impaired differentiation in the guinea pig 3 months following severe perinatal asphyxia (PA). We were therefore interested in the clinical features in terms of neurology, cognitive functions, and behavior.
Methods We tested the long-term effects of PA in an animal model, which in the rat are well documented and resemble the clinical situation. Examinations consisted of an observational battery for motor and reflex functions and the acoustic startle response setting. We tested cognitive functions in the multiple T-maze and evaluated behavior using the elevated plus maze and open field studies.
Results No neurologic deficits were observed in the observational battery, including the acoustic startle response. Cognitive functions of memory and learning were not impaired in the multiple T-maze. In the open field and in the elevated plus maze, the system to test anxiety-related behavior, guinea pigs performed well.
Conclusion Our findings of patent neurology, cognitive functions, and behavior do not reflect the prominent morphologic findings of neurodegeneration. This is in agreement with corresponding studies on PA in the rat at the identical time point. We learned from this study that both test systems, although representing the standard in neuroscience, are either not sensitive enough or central nervous system lesions are clinically fully compensated.