The effect of hypoxia at different embryonic ages on impairment of memory ability in chicks

Candice Lauren Rodricks, Marie Elizabeth Gibbs, Graham Jenkin, Suzanne Lee Miller

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Hypoxia during the prenatal period is a principal antecedent to cognitive impairment after birth. In this study we have investigated the duration, severity and timing of acute hypoxia during chick embryonic development to elucidate the relative importance of these factors. Our results show that 24h of hypoxia (exposure to 14 oxygen) at embryonic day 10 (E10) results in significant impairment of intermediate and long-term memory in the post-hatch chick, which is the same as we observed with 4 days of hypoxia. At E14, 24h of hypoxia, 5min of anoxia, but not 1h of hypoxia, resulted only in impaired long-term memory; the same as 4 days of hypoxia from E14. Corticosterone levels, measured post-hatch as an indicator of a stress response, were significantly elevated in response to E10 hypoxia, and E14 hypoxia (both 1 and 24h) and anoxia. In a separate experiment we exposed embryos to 24h of hypoxia from E6 to E16, and found that memory deficits resulted from hypoxia at E9 and E10, and E13-E15, while corticosterone concentrations at hatch were significantly raised following E10-E16 hypoxia. These results demonstrate that the developmental age when the insult occurs determines the nature of the cognitive deficit and, if the severity of the insult is sufficient, then the outcome, or deficits in memory ability, are consistent whether the insult is acute or chronic. Importantly, there are two critical stages in development, which in the chick are around E10 and E14, when acute hypoxia results in significant adverse cognitive effects after hatch. These time-points correspond to two different stages in growth and development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113 - 118
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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