Dopaminergic signaling and neurodevelopment alterations are associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders. Knockout mice for dopamine transporters (DAT) as well as site-specific knockout mice lacking dopaminergic D2 autoreceptors in dopaminergic neurons (DA-D2RKO) display behavioral alterations such as hyperlocomotion and abnormal prepulse inhibition. However, it is possible that dopaminergic imbalances may have different effects during varied neurodevelopmental windows. In our previous study, we observed that elevated levels of dopamine during the perinatal developmental window increased exploratory behavior of juvenile (4-week-old) Swiss female mice and impaired hedonic behavior in males. In this study, we investigated whether these behavioral alterations persist through young adulthood. In order to do so, we administered daily doses of l-Dopa to mice pups beginning from postnatal day 1 (PD1) to PD5. At the age of 8 weeks, we submitted the young adult males and females to the open field test, elevated plus maze, forced swimming test, and sucrose preference test. We observed that augmentation of dopamine levels during the perinatal developmental window increased locomotor behavior in females, but not males. We also observed an increase in anxiety-behavior in females and anxiolytic-like behavior in males. In addition, we observed stress-coping behavior in males and an increase of hedonic behavior in females. Our results show that dopamine signaling is important for behavioral development and that transient imbalances of dopamine levels can cause permanent behavioral alterations – alterations which are different in males than in females. These data may help in better understanding the spectrum of symptoms associated with different neuropsychiatric disorders.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.