Neonatal stress tempers vulnerability of acute stress response in adult socially isolated rats

Mariangela Serra, Giovanni Biggio

Abstract


Adverse experiences occurred in early life and especially during childhood and adolescence can have negative impact on behavior later in life and the quality of maternal care is considered a critical moment that can considerably influence the development and the stress responsiveness in offspring. This review will assess how the association between neonatal and adolescence stressful experiences such as maternal separation and social isolation, at weaning, may influence the stress responsiveness and brain plasticity in adult rats. Three hours of separation from the pups (3-14 postnatal days) significantly increased frequencies of maternal arched-back nursing and licking-grooming by dams across the first 14 days postpartum and induced a long-lasting increase in their blood levels of corticosterone. Maternal separation, which per sedid not modified brain and plasma allopregnanolone and corticosterone levels in adult rats, significantly reduced social isolation-induced decrease of the levels of these hormones. Moreover, the enhancement of corticosterone and allopregnanolone levels induced by foot shock stress in socially isolated animals that were exposed to maternal separation was markedly reduced respect to that observed in socially isolated animals. Our results suggest that in rats a daily brief separation from the mother during the first weeks of life, which per se did not substantially alter adult function and reactivity of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, elicited a significant protection versus the subsequent long-term stressful experience such that induced by social isolation from weaning.

 

Proceedings of the 10th International Workshop on Neonatology · Cagliari (Italy) · October 22nd-25th, 2014 · The last ten years, the next ten years in Neonatology

Guest Editors: Vassilios Fanos, Michele Mussap, Gavino Faa, Apostolos Papageorgiou


Keywords


maternal care; maternal separation; social isolation; allopregnanolone; HPA axis; rat

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