Developmental fluoxetine exposure facilitates sexual behavior in female offspring

Ine Rayen, Harry W. M. Steinbusch, Thierry D. Charlier*, Jodi L. Pawluski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A growing number of infants are being exposed to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications during the perinatal period. SSRIs target the serotoninergic system and are a popular treatment for maternal mood disorders. Serotonin itself plays a key role in the sexual differentiation through its role in the development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, and previous research has shown that developmental SSRI exposure has an effect on sexual behavior in male offspring. Our aim was to determine the role of developmental exposure to a popular SSRI medication, fluoxetine, on sexual differentiation of the brain and behavior in female offspring using a rodent model of maternal adversity. Stressed and non-stressed Sprague-Dawley rat dams were chronically treated with either fluoxetine (5 mg/kg/day) or vehicle beginning on postnatal day 1. Four groups of female offspring were used: (1) control + vehicle, (2) control + fluoxetine, (3) prenatal stress + vehicle, and (4) prenatal stress + fluoxetine. Primary results show that in adult female offspring, developmental fluoxetine exposure facilitates proceptive and receptive behaviors with a significant increase in the number of proceptive behaviors, a significant increase in the lordosis quotient, and a significant decrease in the rejection quotient. This research contributes in the understanding of the long-term impact developmental fluoxetine exposure on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) system in adult female offspring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-133
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • SSRIs
  • Serotonin
  • Development
  • Proceptive behavior
  • Receptive behavior
  • Sexual differentiation
  • Hypothalamus
  • Depression
  • MPOA
  • Reproduction
  • Stress


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