Rachael Nicole Dudziak | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Rachel Dudziak head shot

Name: Rachael Nicole Dudziak
Title: Differentiating the Effects of Androgenic and Anti-androgenic Oral Contraceptives on Rodent Behavior
Major: Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience
Advisors: Amy Jo Stavnezer; Claudia Thompson; Alfredo Zuniga (second reader)

Oral contraceptive research is scarce, lacking representative samples and specificity in the generation of the pill. The pill can vary in terms of androgenicity, which can produce masculizing or feminizing effects on the brain. Clinical and animal studies have supported that these changes may alter spatial memory and performance, attentional abilities, and affect. In this study, adolescent female Sprague-Dawley rats were injected intravenously with either an androgenic oral contraceptive, an anti-androgenic oral contraceptive, or a vehicle without a drug. Oral contraceptives did not impact anxiety in rodents but seemed to impair spatial and attention abilities in rodents. Treatment with an oral contraceptive led to worse performance in the MWM probe trial compared to control animals. The pill also decreased performance within the attentional task relative to controls, regardless of androgenicity. Contraceptive groups did not differ in anxiety measures within the EPM compared to controls. Therefore, it is pertinent that the impact of androgenicity of progestins on learning, anxiety, and attention continues to be explored. These findings support the idea that oral contraceptives can affect behavior and cognition, which is pertinent information for those who rely on these for medications.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 24, 2024.