Neonatal hypoxia ischemia (HI; reduced oxygen and/or blood flow to the brain) can cause various degrees of tissue damage, as well as subsequent cognitive/behavioral deficits such as motor, learning/memory, and auditory impairments. These outcomes frequently result from cardiovascular and/or respiratory events observed in premature infants. Data suggests that there is a sex difference in HI outcome, with males being more adversely affected relative to comparably injured females. Brain/body temperature may play a role in modulating the severity of an HI insult, with hypothermia during an insult yielding more favorable anatomical and behavioral outcomes. The current study utilized a postnatal day (P) 7 rodent model of HI injury to assess the effect of temperature modulation during injury in each sex. We hypothesized that female P7 rats would benefit more from lowered body temperatures as compared to male P7 rats. We assessed all subjects on rota-rod, auditory discrimination, and spatial/non-spatial maze tasks. Our results revealed a significant benefit of temperature reduction in HI females as measured by most of the employed behavioral tasks. However, HI males benefitted from temperature reduction as measured on auditory and non-spatial tasks. Our data suggest that temperature reduction protects both sexes from the deleterious effects of HI injury, but task and sex specific patterns of relative efficacy are seen.
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