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The effects of early protein malnutrition and environmental stimulation on behavioral and biochemical parameters in rats

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Author(s): Valdomiro de Freitas Sampaio, Luiz Marcellino de Oliveira, Sebastião Sousa Almeida, Julio Sérgio Marchini, José Antunes-Rodrigues and Lucila Leico Kagohara Elias

Journal: Psychology & Neuroscience
ISSN 1984-3054

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 109;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: malnutrition | polyamines | corticosterone | elevated plus-maze | anxiety.

ABSTRACT
The present study investigated the effects of protein malnutrition and environmental stimulation on biochemical and behavioral parameters in rats. The concentrations of polyamines in the frontal cortex, striatum, and hippocampus, as well as plasma corticosterone levels, were measured. The exploratory behavior was analyzed using the elevated plus-maze (EPM) test. Rats received either 16% (well-nourished - W) or 6% (malnourished - M) protein diets and were divided into stimulated or non-stimulated groups. Malnutrition increased corticosterone levels and decreased plasma protein and anxiety. Non-stimulated rats tested in the EPM had increased corticosterone levels and decreased frontal cortex, striatum and hippocampus protein and polyamines contents. Stimulation decreased open arm entries in the EPM in M animals and increased closed arm entries in the W ones. Stimulation increased frequency and time spent in risk-assessment behaviors. These results suggest that both malnutrition and EPM testing are distressing situations, as indicated by increased corticosterone levels. These results are consistent with lower anxiety and/or higher impulsiveness in M animals.

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