• hormonal imprinting;
  • neonatal treatment;
  • serotonin;
  • digoxin;
  • white blood cells;
  • mast cells;
  • thymus


Hormonal imprinting takes place perinatally at the first encounter between the hormone and its target receptor, causing the finishment of the maturation of receptor—signal transduction system. In the presence of an excess of the target hormone or related molecules faulty imprinting develops with life-long consequences. In earlier experiments single neonatal treatment with minute dose of IL-6 caused also prolonged stimulation of IL-6 production. In the present experiment newborn female and male rats were treated with 20μg serotonin (hormonal imprinting) and were studied for serotonin content of different cell types in adult age. Serotonin content was measured by flow cytometry and its localization was determined by confocal microscopy. Serotonin content was detected in white blood cells (lymphocytes, monocytes and granulocytes); in lymphocytes, monocytes (macrophages), granulocytes and mast cells of peritoneal fluid and thymic lymphocytes. Serotonin was present in all cell types of control animals studied. Serotonin content extremely elevated in the white blood cells and also increased in the peritoneal cells of neonatally treated female animals. There was no elevation in thymic lymphocytes. The mean values of male animals remained at the control level. The experiments call attention to the life-long effect of the perinatal hormonal imprinting manifested presently in the elevation of serotonin content and point to the gender differences of serotonin imprinting. Considering the role of serotonin in mood and psychiatric diseases, the observations could have some clinical importance.