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Perinatal SSRI medications and offspring hippocampal plasticity: interaction with maternal stress and sex

Short Review


There is growing use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant (SSRI) medications during the perinatal period to treat maternal affective disorders. Perinatal SSRI exposure can have a long-term impact on offspring neuroplasticity and behavioral development that remains to be fully elucidated. This mini-review will summarize what is known about the effects of perinatal SSRIs on plasticity in the developing hippocampus, taking into account the role that maternal stress and depression may have. Emerging clinical findings and research in animal models will be discussed. In addition, sexually differentiated effects will be highlighted, as recent work shows that male offspring are often more sensitive to the effects of maternal stress, whereas female offspring can be more sensitive to perinatal SSRIs. Potential mechanisms behind these changes and aims for future research will also be discussed. Understanding the impact of perinatal SSRIs on neuroplasticity will provide better insight into the long-term effects of such medications on the health and well-being of both mother and child and may improve therapeutic approaches for maternal mood disorders during the perinatal period.


Antidepressants Perinatal depression Prenatal stress Neurogenesis Hippocampus Adolescence Sex differences 5-HT Serotonin 



JLP is funded by a Brain and Behavior Foundation NARSAD Young Investigator Grant and SAD funding from the Region of Bretagne.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors have no conflicts of interests to report.

Ethical Considerations

As this is a minireview of the literature, ethical approval was not required.


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Copyright information

© Hellenic Endocrine Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Univ Rennes, Inserm, EHESPIrset (Institut de Recherche en Santé, Environnement et Travail), UMR_S 1085RennesFrance
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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