Date of Thesis

Spring 2012


Synthetic glucocorticoids (GC) are used as a clinical therapeutic to stimulate lung development in fetuses that present the risk of preterm delivery. Previous studies have shown that a prenatal exposure to Dexamethasone (DEX) causes a disturbance in normal GC mediation of neuritic outgrowth, cell signaling, and serotonergic systems. Our hypothesis is that a prenatal exposure to DEX during the third trimester of pregnancy alters 5HT1A receptor function. Pregnant dams were injected daily with 150μg/ml/kg of DEX from gestation day 14 through 19. Control dams were treated with and equal volume of saline. Swim stress followed by elevated plus maze testing was conducted on male rats an hour and a half prior to being sacrificed to induce postnatal acute stress. The non-stressed group was also tested and allowed to return to baseline before sacrifice. Hippocampi were analyzed using a radioligand-receptor binding assay and GTPγS35 incorporation (3H-MPPF antagonist and 8-OH-DPAT agonist, respectively). A significant increase in Kd was found in non-stressed DEX-exposed animals compared to non-stressed controls (p


Dexamethasone, 5HT1A, Stress, Cortisol, Corticosterone, Hippocampus, Learning

Access Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Kathleen Creed Page