Amniotic Fluid or Its Fatty Acids Produce Actions Similar to Diazepam on Lateral Septal Neurons Firing Rate
Odors from amniotic fluid produce signs of calmness in mammals suggesting some anxiolytic-like properties. Experimental models, such as the defensive burying, elevated plus maze, and open field tests offer well-controlled approaches to the study of putative anxiolytic substances using rats. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we first identified eight fatty acids (lauric, myristic, palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, oleic, elaidic, and linoleic acids) as consistently present in human amniotic fluid. We then used the defensive burying and elevated plus maze tests to compare the action of diazepam (2 mg/kg), fresh amniotic fluid, and a mixture of its fatty acids with two vehicles (i.e. propylene glycol and centrifuged amniotic fluid with a low fatty acid content). No significant differences in estradiol or progesterone content were found between fresh amniotic fluid and centrifuged amniotic fluid using the microparticle enzyme immunoassay. Compared with the vehicle, diazepam, fresh amniotic fluid, and the fatty acid mixture increased burying latency, reduced cumulative burying, and increased the time spent in the open arms of the elevated plus maze in both sexes without altering general locomotor activity. We conclude that the fatty acids contained in human amniotic fluid exert anxiolytic-like effects, with minimal or no participation of female gonadal steroids.