Wistar male rats, 3-4 months old, were made to breathe for 6 h a sub-lethal hypoxic atmosphere consisting of 8% oxygen and 92% nitrogen. Following this treatment, these rats were subjected to a series of behavioral and biochemical tests starting 30 days and ending at about 180 days after the hypoxic insult. An age-matched control group was subjected to the same series of tests. The following findings were made at the time interval indicated, relative to controls: (1) At 30-35 days, diurnal (3 h) and nocturnal (12 h) locomotor activities decreased by about 25%. (2) At 40-45 days, amphetamine in the dose range of 0.25-1 mg/kg proved less effective in eliciting an increase in motor activity and stereotypic behavior. (3) At about 50 days, apomorphine in the dose range 0.25-0.5 mg/kg caused an increase in stereotypic behavior. (4) At 60-65 days, α-methyl-p-tyrosine at the dose of 50 mg/kg caused a more pronounced hypoactive syndrome and a slower rate of recovery of motor activity. (5) At 75-90 days, performance in the active avoidance test was inferior to that of controls. (6) At 180 days, and one hour after a dose of 200 mg/kg α-methyl-p-tyrosine, the turnover rates of hippocampal norepinephrine and caudate-putamen dopamine were much below control. One may tentatively conclude that one of the effects of hypoxia in adult rats is a lesion producing long-term behavioral disorders which are partly ascribed to dopaminergic and, possibly noradrenergic, dysfunction. © 1990.
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