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Abstract

Hypoxia (H) and hypoxia-ischemia (HI) are major causes of foetal brain damage with long-lasting behavioral implications. The effect of hypoxia has been widely studied in human and a variety of animal models. In the present review, we summarize the latest studies testing the behavioral outcomes following prenatal hypoxia/hypoxia-ischemia in rodent models. Delayed development of sensory and motor reflexes during the first postnatal month of rodent life was observed by various groups. Impairment of motor function, learning and memory was evident in the adult animals. Activation of the signaling leading to cell death was detected as early as three hours following H/HI. An increase in the counts of apoptotic cells appeared approximately three days after the insult and peaked about seven days later. Around 14–20 days following the H/HI, the amount of cell death observed in the tissue returned to its basal levels and cell loss was apparent in the brain tissue. The study of the molecular mechanism leading to brain damage in animal models following prenatal hypoxia adds valuable insight to our knowledge of the central events that account for the morphological and functional outcomes. This understanding provides the starting point for the development and improvement of efficient treatment and intervention strategies.