Exposure to imidacloprid during early development induces long-lasting changes in behavior and brain function in mice

We assessed the effects of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid (IMI) in adult male and female mice after in utero and early postnatal exposure. Pregnant mice were infused with IMI (0.5 mg/kg/day) from gestational day 4 to the end of nursing at postnatal day 21. The young adult offspring were studied in a series of biochemical and behavioral tests. To assess reproducibility, the behavioral analyses were conducted in three separate studies using multiple exposed litters. Exposure to IMI reduced fecundity, and in adult offspring, decreased body weight in male but not female pups. Offspring from IMI-treated mothers displayed lower triglycerides, elevated motor activity, enhanced social dominance, reduced depressive-like behavior, and a diminution in social aggression compared to vehicle treated controls. Low levels of IMI were detected in the brains and livers of the treated mothers, while trace levels were detected in some offspring. Our results demonstrate that transient exposure to a neonicotinoid over the early developmental period induces long-lasting changes in behavior and brain function in mice.

Source: Burke AP et al. Scientific Reports volume 8, Article number: 16639 (2018)