There have been few previous studies of the functional significance of 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT) lesions made in neonatal rats. To study the role of serotonin (5-HT) in recovery of function, rat pups and adult rats were injected intracisternally with 5,7-DHT or saline and challenged acutely with the 5-HT precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) 4 weeks later as a test of behavioral supersensitivity. Compared to 5,7-DHT lesions in adults, neonatal lesions induced significantly greater 5-HT depletions in brainstem, but 5-HT depletions in other regions were not significantly different in the two groups. Rats with early 5,7-DHT lesions displayed supersensitive behavioral responses to 5-HTP, consisting of all the component myoclonic-serotonergic behaviors seen in rats with 5,7-DHT lesions made as adults. However, there was significantly less 5-HTP-evoked head weaving, truncal myoclonus and shaking behavior in rats treated with 5,7-DHT as neonates. Body weight was reduced both in rats with early and late 5,7-DHT lesions, but reduction persisted in rats with early lesions. These data indicate overall similarity with some differences between neurochemical and behavioral effects of early and late 5,7-DHT lesions made by the intracisternal route. They suggest that recovery mechanisms did not occur or failed to reverse the neurochemical or behavioral consequences of early 5,7-DHT lesions.

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