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Perinatal Asphyxia in the Guinea Pig Leads to Morphologic but not Neurologic, Cognitive, or Behavioral Changes
  1. Harald Hoeger,
  2. Herrmann Bubna-Littitz,
  3. Mario Engelmann,
  4. Ingrid Schwerdtner,
  5. Diethard Schmid,
  6. Robert Lahoda,
  7. Rainer Seidl,
  8. Gert Lubec,
  9. Barbara Lubec
  1. Institute for Animal Genetics (H.H., I.S.), University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Institute for Physiology (H.B.-L.), Veterinary University, Vienna, Austria; Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry (M.E.), Munich, Germany; Institute for Physiology (D.S., R.L.), University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Department of Neonatology (R.S., G.L., B.L.), University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
  1. Support for this study was provided by the Red Bull Company, Salzburg, Austria.
  2. Address correspondence to: Prof Barbara Lubec, Department of Neonatology, University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18, 1090 Vienna, Austria; Tel: +43-1-404003232, fax: +43-1-404003194, e-mail: gert.lubec{at}akh-wien.ac.at.

Abstract

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.

Key Words
  • perinatal asphyxia
  • guinea pig
  • behavior
  • cognitive functions

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