Stress early in life leads to cognitive impairments, reduced numbers of CA3 neurons and altered maternal behavior in adult female mice

Vasiliy V. Reshetnikov, Anna V. Kovner, Arina A. Lepeshko, Konstantin S. Pavlov, Larisa N. Grinkevich, Natalya P. Bondar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The hippocampus is a crucial part of the limbic system involved both in cognitive processing and in the regulation of responses to stress. Adverse experiences early in life can disrupt hippocampal development and lead to impairment of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis response to subsequent stressors. In our study, two types of early-life stress were used: prolonged separation of pups from their mothers (for 3 hours/day, maternal separation, MS) and brief separation (for 15 minutes/day, handling, HD). In the first part of our study, we found that adult female mice (F0) who had experienced MS showed reduced locomotor activity and impairment of long-term spatial and recognition memory. Analysis of various hippocampal regions showed that MS reduced the number of mature neurons in CA3 of females, which is perhaps a crucial hippocampal region for learning and memory; however, neurogenesis remained unchanged. In the second part, we measured maternal care in female mice with a history of early-life stress (F0) as well as the behavior of their adult offspring (F1). Our results indicated that MS reduced the level of maternal care in adult females (F0) toward their own progeny and caused sex-specific changes in the social behavior of adult offspring (F1). In contrast to MS, HD had no influence on female behavior or hippocampal plasticity. Overall, our results suggest that prolonged MS early in life affects the adult behavior of F0 female mice and hippocampal neuronal plasticity, whereas the mothers' previous experience has effects on the behavior of their F1 offspring through disturbances of mother-infant interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12541
Number of pages14
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Volume19
Issue number3
Early online date28 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • cognition
  • early-life stress
  • handling
  • hippocampus
  • learning
  • maternal care
  • maternal separation
  • memory
  • neurogenesis
  • neuronal plasticity
  • CHILDHOOD MALTREATMENT
  • SOCIAL STRESS
  • ELEVATED PLUS-MAZE
  • SYNAPTIC PLASTICITY
  • CARE
  • MEDIAL PREOPTIC AREA
  • MEMORY
  • SEPARATION
  • DENTATE GYRUS
  • HIPPOCAMPAL NEUROGENESIS

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