Elevation of serotonin via postnatal fluoxetine (PNFlx) treatment during critical temporal windows is hypothesized to perturb the development of limbic circuits thus establishing a substratum for persistent disruption of mood-related behavior. We examined the impact of PNFlx treatment on the formation and maintenance of perineuronal nets (PNNs), extracellular matrix (ECM) structures that deposit primarily around inhibitory interneurons, and mark the closure of critical period plasticity. PNFlx treatment evoked a significant decline in PNN number, with a robust reduction in PNNs deposited around parvalbumin (PV) interneurons, within the CA1 and CA3 hippocampal subfields at postnatal day 21 in Sprague-Dawley rat pups. While the reduction in CA1 subfield PNN number was still observed in adulthood, we observed no change in colocalization of PV-positive interneurons with PNNs in the hippocampi of adult PNFlx animals. PNFlx treatment did not alter hippocampal parvalbumin, calretinin, or reelin-positive neuron numbers in PNFlx animals at P21 or in adulthood. We did observe a small, but significant increase in somatostatin (SST)-positive interneurons in the DG subfield of PNFlx-treated animals in adulthood. This was accompanied by altered GABA-A receptor subunit composition, increased dendritic complexity of apical dendrites of CA1 pyramidal neurons, and enhanced neuronal activation revealed by increased c-Fos-positive cell numbers within hippocampi of PNFlx-treated animals in adulthood. These results indicate that PNFlx treatment alters the developmental trajectory of PNNs within the hippocampus, raising the possibility of a disruption of critical period plasticity and the establishment of an altered excitation-inhibition balance within this key limbic brain region.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience