1-2% of live births are to very low birth weight, premature infants that often show a developmental trajectory plagued with neurological sequelae including ventriculomegaly and significant decreases in cortical volume. We are able to recapitulate these sequelae using a mouse model of hypoxia where early postnatal pups are exposed to chronic hypoxia for one week. However, because the timing of hypoxic exposure occurs so early in development, dams and pups are housed together in the hypoxic chamber, and therefore, dams are also subjected to the same hypoxic conditions as the pups. To understand the relative contribution of hypoxia directly on the pups as opposed to the indirect contribution mediated by the effects of hypoxia and potential alterations in the dam's care of the pups, we examined whether reducing the dams exposure to hypoxia may significantly increase pup outcomes on measures that we have found consistently changed immediately following chronic hypoxia exposure. To achieve this, we rotated dams between normoxic and hypoxic conditions, leaving the litters untouched in their respective conditions and compared gross anatomical measures of normoxic and hypoxic pups with non-rotating or rotating mothers. As we expected, hypoxic-rearing decreased pup body weight, brain weight and cortical volume. Reducing the dam's exposure to hypoxic conditions actually amplified the effects of hypoxia on body weight, such that hypoxic pups with rotating mothers showed significantly less growth. Interestingly, rotation of hypoxic mothers did not have the same deleterious effect on brain weight, suggesting the presence of compensatory mechanisms conserving brain weight and development even under extremely low body weight conditions. The factors that potentially contribute to these compensatory changes remain to be determined, however, nutrition, pup feeding/metabolism, or changes in maternal care are important candidates, acting either together or independently to change pup body and brain development.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Brain development, Hypoxia, Maternal care, Mouse
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2015.07.033
Journal Neuroscience Letters
Salmaso, N, Dominguez, M. (Moises), Kravitz, J. (Jacob), Komitova, M. (Mila), Vaccarino, F.M. (Flora M.), & Schwartz, M.L. (Michael L.). (2015). Contribution of maternal oxygenic state to the effects of chronic postnatal hypoxia on mouse body and brain development. Neuroscience Letters, 604, 12–17. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2015.07.033