Comparisons of the densities of NADPHd reactive and nNOS immunopositive neurons in the hippocampus of three age groups of young nonhandled and handled rats

C. Leo Veenman, Julia Lehmann, Thomas Stöhr, Susan Totterdell, Benjamin Yee, Anna Mura, Joram Feldon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The complete absence of handling of male rats during neonatal development (from birth to postnatal day 21) correlates with an impairment of latent inhibition [J. Feldon, I. Weiner, From an animal model of an attentional deficit towards new insights into the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, J. Psychiatr. Res. 26 (1992) 345-366.]. Such nonhandling of rats reportedly also correlates with a decreased expression of reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-diaphorase (NADPHd) reactivity in the hippocampus in adult rats (6 months of age) when compared with rats of the same age that were handled during the same neonatal period [R.R. Vaid, B.K. Yee, U. Shalev, J.N. Rawlins, I. Weiner, J. Feldon, S. Totterdell, Neonatal nonhandling and in utero prenatal stress reduce the density of NADPH-diaphorase-reactive neurons in the fascia dentata and Ammon's horn of rats, J. Neurosci. 17 (1997) 5599-5609.]. The present study investigated whether such a decrease in NADPHd activity would be detectable at earlier ages. Therefore, the present study assessed the density of nitric oxide (NO) producing neurons in the fascia dentata and Ammon's horn in 28-, 54-, and 118-day-old nonhandled and handled male rats using NADPHd histochemistry and immunohistochemical localization of neuronal isoform of nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), a NADPHd. This showed that in these three age groups, the numbers of NADPHd positive neurons per unit area throughout the hippocampus of rats that received no handling during neonatal development did not differ significantly from those of rats that received regular daily handling. In addition, we found in the rats of 118 days of age that the areal density of nNOS immunopositive neurons in the hippocampus also did not differ significantly between nonhandled and handled rats. Nevertheless, in a parallel study, rats from the same experimental group receiving identical treatments showed the expected impairment of latent inhibition at 4 months of age [R. Weizman, J. Lehmann, S. Leschiner, I. Allmann, T. Stoehr, C. Heidbreder, A. Domeney, J. Feldon, M. Gavish, Long-lasting effect of early handling on the peripheral- type benzodiazepine receptor, Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. in press.]. These results suggest that nonhandling of rats during the early neonatal period, that does result in impairment in latent inhibition, does not affect the numbers of NO producing neurons in the hippocampus in rats of young ages, including the age of observed impairment of latent inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-243
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 14 May 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Ammon's horn
  • Dentate gyrus
  • Development
  • Nitric oxide
  • Postnatal stimulation
  • Transmitter location


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