Charlis Raineki a , Raphael Escorsim Szawka d , Cármen Marilei Gomes a, c , Marta Knijnik Lucion a , Jaqueline Barp b , Adriane Belló-Klein b , Celso Rodrigues Franci c , Janete Aparecida Anselmo-Franci d , Gilberto Luiz Sanvitto a , Aldo Bolten Lucion a
06 December 2007
Early-life environmental events that disrupt the mother-pup relationship may induce profound long-lasting changes on several behavioral and neuroendocrine systems. The neonatal handling procedure, which involves repeated brief maternal separations followed by experimental manipulations, reduces sexual behavior and induces anovulatory estrous cycles in female rats. On the afternoon of proestrus, neonatally handled females show a reduced surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) and an increased content of gonadotropin-releasing hormone in the medial preoptic area (MPOA). In order to detect the possible causes for the reduced ovulation and sexual behavior, the present study aimed to analyze the effects of neonatal handling on noradrenaline (NA) and nitric oxide (NO) levels in the MPOA on the afternoon of proestrus. Neonatal handling reduced MHPG (NA metabolite) levels and MHPG/NA ratio in the MPOA, indicating decreased NAergic activity. Additionally, neonatal handling decreased NO levels, as measured by the metabolites (NO<sub>x</sub>), nitrite and nitrate in the same period. We may conclude that the neonatal handling procedure decreased activity of the NAergic and NOergic systems in the MPOA during proestrus, which is involved in the control of LH and FSH secretion, and this may possibly explain the anovulatory estrous cycles and reduced sexual behavior of the neonatally handled female rats.