Cesarean Section delivery in mice leads to smaller brain volumes at birth

Birth is a complex and intricate physiological process involving several mechanisms that allow a swift adaptation of the newborn to extrauterine life. Indeed, during birth the brain undergoes profound changes to cope with oxygen deprivation and the squeezing of the head. However, some or all of these mechanisms and changes do not take place if birth is done by Cesarean Section (CS) delivery. Since the rate of birth by CS has steadily increased over the past decades, and its association with a higher risk of neonatal morbidity and early physiological defects has been reported in the literature, our latest work on the impact of CS delivery on the developing brain (Chiesa et al. Cerebral Cortex) aimed at characterizing the effects of CS already at birth. We performed CS delivery at term or preterm in mice and evaluated the brains on the day of birth using the iDISCO and 3D imaging technique. Our results show that term and preterm CS delivery impact the whole-brain, hippocampus and striatum volumes. In addition, preterm CS delivery, and not term CS, affects cellular activity (c-Fos labeling) and apoptosis (caspase-3 labeling) both in the hippocampus and the striatum. These results shed light on how changes in the way and/or time of being born affect early life brain developmental processes, rendering the brain vulnerable to early extrauterine life.

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