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EFFECTS OF DIFFERENT LEVELS OF PROTEIN AND ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULATION ON THE BEHAVIOR OF YOUG RATS TESTED IN THE ELEVATED PLUS-MAZE

Tania Regina Riul, Patrícia S. Almeida, Andréa F. Carvalho, Sebastião de Sousa Almeida, Luiz Marcellino de Oliveira

Resumo

The interaction between the effects of different levels of protein malnutrition and environmental stimulation was investigated in young male rats in the elevated plus-maze (EPM). Litters (dam plus 6 male and 2 female pups) were fed a 16% (Control: C), 10% (Malnourished: M10) or 6% (Malnourished: M6) protein diet. Half of the litters were daily exposed to additional stimulation (CS, MS10 or MS6), while the other half was maintained in normal rearing conditions (CN, MN10 or MN6). The stimulation (handling) consisted of holding the rat in one hand and gently touching the dorsal part of the body with the fingers for3 min. On the 22nd day of life (weaning), two male pups from each group were tested in the plus-maze. Two male pups continued to receive the same diet their mothers, and other two were fed a non-purified lab chow diet until 35 days of age when they were tested in the plus-maze (LN, LS, LN10, LS10, LN6 and LS6 groups). Results showed that environmental simulation increased open arms exploration both at 22 and 35 days of age, indicating an anxiolytic effect of this procedure. Younger rats (22 days of age) explored significantly more the open arms of the maze as compared with older rats (35 days of age), indicating an increase in anxiety with age. M6 animals showed significantly higher percentages of open arm entries and less frequent attempts to enter open arms in the maze as compared with C and M10 animals. These results suggest that even a short period of protein deficiency can produce alterations in the emotional response of rats in the elevated plus-maze. In addition, the data demonstrated that protein deficiency more severe than 10% is necessary to produce behavior alterations in the EPM test.

Keywords: Age, Anxiety, Environmental stimulation, Impulsiveness, Plus-maze test, Protein malnutrition levels. 


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18542/rebac.v10i2.3474