Impact of Maternal Helminths on Learning and Memory

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Northern Kentucky University
Neuroinflammation is very serious and if it occurs during development, it can have lasting debilitating effects, including cognitive impairments and altered immune function. In the central nervous system (CNS), there are immune cells called microglia that are activated during brain immune challenges and in the inflammatory process. Helminths have been shown to attenuate cognitive disfunction and inflammation when given to mother and pup, though little is known about how the helminths attenuate neuroinflammation in the rats. We examined the effects of only maternal helminth treatment on her offspring. We assessed CNS gene expression in early life with RT-PCR and used a context pre-exposure facilitation effect paradigm to test hippocampal function in adult offspring. Hippocampal tissue was taken at postnatal day 1 and 4 and analysis showed a difference due to maternal helminth treatment, sex, and age on varying chemokines and cytokines. Analysis of the CPFE paradigm showed that regardless of experimental condition, females froze more than males. This means that they were able to associate the foot shock with the context better than males. In the future we hope to add more power to this project by adding more rats to the CPFE paradigm and analyzing tissue from postnatal days 5 and 7.
2021 Celebration of Student Research and Creativity presentation
Helminths, Hippocampus (Brain), Learning ability