Hyperactivity and alteration of the midbrain dopaminergic system in maternally stressed male mice offspring

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Jan 19;352(3):823-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2006.11.104. Epub 2006 Nov 27.


We recently demonstrated that prolonged maternal stress produces profound and long-lasting deficits in brain functions by programming a subset of target genes. We have now examined the possible effects of prenatal stress on the motility of adult offspring and dopamine (DA)-related gene expression in their midbrains, one of the target brain regions of stress hormones. Maternally stressed adult male mice showed impaired response habituation to novelty, and increased wheel-running activity associated with altered responses to DA receptor and DA transporter (DAT) blockers. Along with the behavioral changes, the expression profiles of several genes of the midbrain DAergic system appeared to be altered. Expression of DAT was reduced and expression of DA receptors and striatal DA-regulated neuropeptide genes was also affected. Taken together, the present findings indicate that maternal stress can cause hyperactivity in adult offspring associated with alterations in the midbrain DAergic system suggestive of a functional hyperdopaminergic state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon / physiopathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Psychomotor Agitation / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*


  • Dopamine