Digital Public Defence: Mette Kongstorp

MSc Mette Kongstorp at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis “Long-term effects of prenatal exposure to methadone or buprenorphine on cognitive functioning. Animal studies of behavior, pharmacokinetics, neonatal outcomes, and neurobiological effects” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

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Due to copyright reasons, an electronic copy of the thesis must be ordered from the faculty. In order for the faculty to have time to process the order, it must be received by the faculty no later than 2 days prior to the public defence. Orders received later than 2 days before the defence will not be processed. Inquiries regarding the thesis after the public defence must be addressed to the candidate.


Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

See Digital Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Professor Louk Vanderschuren, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Second opponent: Associate Professor Carolien Konijnenberg, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Thomas Clausen, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Marianne Klemp, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Associate Professor Jannike Mørch Andersen, University of Oslo


Opioid maintenance treatment (OMT) is the recommended therapy for opioid dependence.  Treatment with methadone or buprenorphine during pregnancy is associated with great uncertainty related to possible negative consequences for the unborn child. Furthermore, since OMT is associated with numerous confounding factors, preclinical animal studies are needed to elucidate a potential causal relationship between prenatal OMT exposure and subsequent effects. The main aim of the present thesis was therefore to study long-term effects of prenatal exposure to methadone or buprenorphine on cognitive functioning by use of a rat model. Continuous maternal exposure to methadone or buprenorphine during pregnancy, at blood concentrations that resemble those reported in pregnant women in OMT, impaired cognitive performance in young adult rat offspring. Both opioids accumulated in the fetal brain tissue and remained in the offspring brain several days after the exposure ceased. The exposure did not induce any major effects on neonatal outcomes, symptoms of withdrawal in the offspring, or maternal behavior, indicating that the long-term effects observed on learning and memory were a direct consequence of the opioid exposure. Furthermore, the study shows that in utero exposure to opioids may interfere with normal brain maturation and induce long-term neurobiological changes.  In conclusion, the present thesis strongly indicates that there is a direct causal relationship between prenatal exposure to methadone or buprenorphine and cognitive impairments in young adult rats. Our findings give rise to a concern that similar effects may occur in humans and that OMT during pregnancy therefore put the unborn child at a potential risk for abnormal neurobiological development and long-term cognitive impairments.

Additional information

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Published Jan. 8, 2021 3:28 PM - Last modified Jan. 25, 2021 9:50 AM