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This experimental study aimed to investigate the protective effect of a bioflavonoid, hesperidin (HP), on formaldehyde (FA)-related pathophysiological and behavioral outcomes in pregnant rats and developmental aspects in their offspring. Female Wistar rats were subjected to perigestational exposure to FA (2 mg/kg/day per os) with a concomitant treatment with HP (50 mg/kg/day per os). Pregnant rats were weighed throughout gestation and tested in two behavioral paradigms (elevated plus-maze and open field) at gestational days (GD) 1, 10 and 19 to evaluate the anxiety-like behavior and locomotive alterations. Another subset of rats was decapitated at GD19 to determine the hematological profile along with cortisol, 17β-estradiol, and progesterone plasma levels. Reproductive and fetal measures and observations were also performed to check for developmental deformities. Significant body weight loss, hemato-immune decline, hormonal changes, anxiety and lethargy signs, locomotor disabilities, reproductive failure and fetal weight decrease were observed in FA-exposed rats. Treatment with HP alleviated the reproductive and fetal weight defects. Its behavioral benefits were only seen at GD1 and 10. This flavanone ameliorated some hematological parameters, decreased cortisol levels and increased 17β-estradiol rates. A potential preventive impact of HP was found against FA toxicity in pregnant rats.
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