Effect of prenatal Phenytoin administration on brain tryptophan metabolism of rat offspring during the preweaning period

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Serum 5‐hydroxytryptamine (5‐HT) and 5‐hydroxyindole acetic acid (5‐HIAA) concentrations in control rat offspring increased progressively during the preweaning period reaching adult values by day 21. It has been shown that prenatal phenytoin administration (100 mg kg−1 orally, days 7–19 of pregnancy) increased serum tryptophan and brain tryptophan, 5‐HT and 5‐HIAA of rat offspring at 3 days of age but not at 4, 15 or 21 days of age. The effect of prenatal phenytoin administration on the offspring at 3 days of age was not observed when these pups were cross‐fostered to control mothers at 2 days of age suggesting that the alteration in brain tryptophan metabolism during the development of tryptaminergic neurons in rat offspring, as a result of prenatal phenytoin administration is mediated through changes in lactation or nursing ability of the mothers. It is important that such non‐specific factors are controlled when studying the effect of prenatally administered drugs on neonatal brain transmitter concentrations. 1980 Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

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