Behavioral and histological outcomes following neonatal HI injury in a preterm (P3) and term (P7) rodent model

M. Alexander, H. Garbus, A. L. Smith, T. S. Rosenkrantz, R. H. Fitch

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42 Scopus citations


Hypoxia-ischemia (HI) occurs when blood and/or oxygen delivery to the brain is compromised. HI injuries can occur in infants born prematurely (<37 weeks gestational age) or at very low birth weight (<1500. g), as well as in term infants with birth complications. In both preterm and term HI populations, brain injury is associated with subsequent behavioral deficits. Neonatal HI injury can be modeled in rodents (e.g., the Rice-Vannucci method, via cautery of right carotid followed by hypoxia). When this injury is induced early in life (between postnatal day (P)1-5), neuropathologies typical of human preterm HI are modeled. When injury is induced later (P7-12), neuropathologies typical of those seen in HI term infants are modeled. The current study sought to characterize the similarities/differences between outcomes following early (P3) and late (P7) HI injury in rats. Male rats with HI injury on P3 or P7, as well as sham controls, were tested on a variety of behavioral tasks in both juvenile and adult periods. Results showed that P7 HI rats displayed deficits on motor learning, rapid auditory processing (RAP), and other learning/memory tasks, as well as a reduction in volume in various neuroanatomical structures. P3 HI animals showed only transient deficits on RAP tasks in the juvenile period (but not in adulthood), yet robust deficits on a visual attention task in adulthood. P3 HI animals did not show any significant reductions in brain volume that we could detect. These data suggest that: (1) behavioral deficits following neonatal HI are task-specific depending on timing of injury; (2) P3 HI rats showed transient deficits on RAP tasks; (3) the more pervasive behavioral deficits seen following P7 HI injury were associated with substantial global tissue loss; and (4) persistent deficits in attention in P3 HI subjects might be linked to neural connectivity disturbances rather than a global loss of brain volume, given that no such pathology was found. These combined findings can be applied to our understanding of differing long-term outcomes following neonatal HI injury in premature versus term infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIH grant HD049792 . We would also like to acknowledge Dr. Michael Gorgieff for his contributions to the editing of this manuscript.

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Developmental
  • Hypoxia ischemia
  • Neonatal
  • Rodents


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