PhD Conferral Mr. Giovanne B. Diniz
Supervisors: prof.dr. H.W.M. Steinbusch, prof.dr. J.C. Bittencourt, ICB/USP, Brasil
Keywords: lactation, maternal physiology, neuroanatomy, three-dimensional reconstruction, plasticity
“Weaning-induced alterations on neuropeptidergic populations of the rat hypothalamus”
Pregnancy/lactation leads to a series of alterations in the woman’s body to prepare for the baby development during pregnancy, as well as its care and nutrition after birth. These changes occur coordinated with brain alterations, in conjunction to signals produced by the embryo and the sensorial stimulation of the babies. This thesis investigated how the physical stimulus of babies can influence these brain alterations, as well as their importance for weaning - when the brain must return to its pre-gestational levels. The results reveal that bigger litters result in larger brain alterations, and the physical stimulation of the pups is necessary to promote a reversal in the brain alterations that occur during lactation. The results also suggest that additional care must be paid to mothers who are unable to breastfeed, as their brains may not return to basal levels after weaning.