The inhibitory GABAergic system in the brain is involved in the etiology of various psychiatric problems, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and others. These disorders are influenced not only by genetic but also by environmental factors, such as preterm birth, although the underlying mechanisms are not known. In a translational hyperoxia model, exposing mice pups at P5 to 80% oxygen for 48 h to mimic a steep rise of oxygen exposure caused by preterm birth from in utero into room air, we documented a persistent reduction of cortical mature parvalbumin-expressing interneurons until adulthood. Developmental delay of cortical myelin was observed, together with decreased expression of oligodendroglial glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a factor involved in interneuronal development. Electrophysiological and morphological properties of remaining interneurons were unaffected. Behavioral deficits were observed for social interaction, learning and attention. These results demonstrate that neonatal oxidative stress can lead to decreased interneuron density and to psychiatric symptoms. The obtained cortical myelin deficit and decreased oligodendroglial GDNF expression indicate that an impaired oligodendroglial-interneuronal interplay contributes to interneuronal damage.

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