2022 Pediatric Research Forum Poster Session

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Touchscreen Operant Platform Paradigms Reveal Differences in Attention and Inhibition but not in Flexibility After Moderate Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Placental Insufficiency Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (PAE) can result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), with individuals demonstrating abnormalities in frontal cortical development with a range of deficits in attention, executive functioning, and response inhibition. A higher incidence of placental insufficiency (PI), which can lead to neurodevelopmental delays, occurs in the setting of PAE. The impact of this combined insult on neurodevelopmental outcomes is lacking. To establish a model of combined moderate PAE and PI, pregnant Long-Evans rats voluntarily drank 5% ethanol or saccharin water through embryonic day 18 (E18). Volume of ethanol consumed was obtained daily to ensure measurements were within expected range. On E19 a laparotomy was performed to occlude the uterine artery for 60 minutes, inducing PI. Pups were delivered normally and matured with their dams until weaning. Offspring then underwent either visual discrimination reversal learning (VD reversal) or 5 choice continuous performance test (5C-CPT). All analyses were completed via ANOVA. Analysis of VD reversal variables demonstrated no statistically significant differences among experimental groups (n=27-31 per group). Analysis of 5C-CPT variables (n=10 per group) showed significant interactions between sex, placental insufficiency, and ethanol consumption for percent false alarm (pFA; p0.05); however, the female group demonstrated a trend for PI to negatively impact SI. This is the first study to combine moderate PAE and PI to assess their impact on frontal cortical function as measured by VD reversal and 5C-CPT. For this paradigm, VD reversal was not sensitive for deficits in flexibility resulting from PAE and PI impacts on frontal cortex function; however, 5C-CPT was able to detect alterations in executive functioning (attention and inhibition). These differences in functional testing sensitivity should be considered for future research selection of testing methods.



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