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developmental and stem cell biologists

SSRI use during pregnancy: potential effects on fetal brain development

Posted by , on 10 November 2022

There have been long-standing debates around the risk of selective serotonin uptake inhibitor (SSRI) use during pregnancy due to the potential effects on fetal brain development. Our studies, which have been recently published in Development, identify an essential role of transient serotonin uptake transporter (SERT) expression in non-serotonergic neurons during neural circuit development in the hippocampus, and disrupting this SERT function leads to sex-biased deficits in hippocampal electrophysiology and behaviors. This suggests that cataloguing the risks of SSRI exposure during particular timing of human fetal brain development could be critical to enhance the sensitivity of the investigations. Differences in cognitive behaviors in the male versus female mice imply that certain neural circuit dysfunctions, particularly in females, resulting from early life SSRI exposure may not manifest until later life and under certain environmental conditions. An outstanding question is how the findings in mouse models may help refine SSRI uses, to safeguard the mother and the offspring. We would appreciate comments and suggestions on our work.

SERT is specifically expressed in a subset of CA3 pyramidal neurons during hippocampal circuit establishment. Figure extracted from De Gregorio, et al.
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