Impact of mothers' experience and early-life stress on aggression and cognition in adult male mice

Vasiliy V. Reshetnikov, Yulia A. Ryabushkina, Natalia P. Bondar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The postnatal period is important for brain development and behavioral programming. Here, we hypothesized that females' stressful experience early in life can lead to disruption of mother–offspring interactions with their own progeny. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of mothers' stressful experience, early-life stress, or both on the behavior of adult male mice. In this study, female mice were allowed to raise their pups either without exposure to stress (normal rearing conditions, NC) or with exposure to maternal separation (3 hr/day, maternal separation, MS). Adult F1 female mice who had experienced MS (stressed mothers, SM) or had been reared normally (undisturbed mothers, UM) were used for generating F2 offspring, which was then exposed (or not exposed) to early-life stress. We assessed anxiety-like behavior, exploratory activity, locomotor activity, aggression, and cognition in four groups of adult F2 males (UM+NC, UM+MS, SM+NC, and SM+MS). We found that SM+MS males become more aggressive if agonistic contact is long enough; these results point to a change in their social coping strategy. Moreover, these aggressive males tended to show better long-term spatial memory. Overall, our findings suggest that mothers' early-life experience may have important implications for the adult behavior of their offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-49
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • aggression
  • cognition
  • early-life stress
  • maternal separation
  • mothers' experience
  • social behavior

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