Magnesium sulfate prevents maternal inflammation–induced impairment of learning ability and memory in rat offspring


      Maternal chorioamnionitis is associated with newborn neurologic injury. Recent evidence suggests that maternal administration of magnesium sulphate (MG) may protect fetuses from white matter injury. Previously we demonstrated evidence by magnetic resonance imaging that MG may prevent maternal inflammation-induced gray matter injury of offspring. Thus, we sought to determine the potential of maternal inflammation to induce fetal neurological/behavioral deficits and assess whether maternal MG attenuates these effects.

      Study Design

      Pregnant rats at day 18 received injections of intraperitoneal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or saline. Dams were treated with subcutaneous saline/MG (270 mg/kg followed by 27 mg/kg every 20 minutes) for 2 hours before and following LPS/saline injections. Pups were delivered spontaneously. At 1 and 3 months of age, 11–12 offspring of each group (saline, LPS, MG, LPS-MG) underwent a 2-way shuttle box avoidance testing. The shuttle box is divided in half and the animal moves between compartments to avoid an electric shock in response to an auditory stimulus.


      Control offspring demonstrated significantly improved learning and memory abilities from age 1 to 3 months. At 1 month, LPS-treated dams’ offspring were similar to controls with no improvement in learning abilities at 3 months. MG treatment of LPS dams significantly improved offspring learning at 3 months, to equal or better than that of controls.


      LPS-stimulated inflammation during pregnancy impairs offspring learning ability and memory, which is ameliorated by maternal MG treatment. These results suggest that maternal MG therapy may prevent white and gray matter injuries associated with maternal infection/inflammation.

      Key words

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