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Behaviour, brain and body growth of guinea-pigs after prenatal growth restriction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

Elizabeth A. Byrne
Affiliation:
Department of Child Health, University of Manchester, Medical School, Stopford Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT
J. L. Smart
Affiliation:
Department of Child Health, University of Manchester, Medical School, Stopford Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT
J. Dobbing
Affiliation:
Department of Child Health, University of Manchester, Medical School, Stopford Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT
Jean Sands
Affiliation:
Department of Child Health, University of Manchester, Medical School, Stopford Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT
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Abstract

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1. Guinea-pigs were growth-retarded in early life by feeding their mothers a restricted quantity of food during the second half of pregnancy. After birth, all animals were fed ad lib. Body-weights were recorded weekly and behavioural tests were made on adult males. The animals were then killed and their brains dissected into forebrain, cerebellum and brain stem. These regions were weighed and DNA-phorphorus content measured.

2. At 14 weeks each male was paired with another male for 10 min on four consecutive days and their social behaviour scored. Tests 1 and 2 were on like-treatment pairs and tests 3 and 4 on unlike-treatment pairs. At 25 weeks the same animals were subjected to six graded series of brief, unavoidable shocks and their responses recorded. After 3 d, thresholds of aversion to electric shock were measured by recording the period of time spent on the ‘safe’ side of a rectangular box at five shock levels.

3. Undernourished guinea-pigs were significantly lighter than controls at birth but not at adulthood. Regional brain weights and DNA-P content of previously-undernourished guinea-pigs were significantly lower than those of controls, with the greatest deficit in brain stem.

4. Pairs of previously-undernourished guinea-pigs began to interact more quickly and threatened and nosed each other more often than pairs of controls. In mixed pairs previously-undernourished animals chased controls more than their control partners chased them. There were no differences between groups in responsiveness to unavoidable shock or in aversion thresholds.

Type
Papers of direct relevance to Clinical and Human Nutrition
Copyright
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 1978

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