Influence of Early Stress on Social Abilities and Serotonergic Functions Across Generations in Mice

PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e21842. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021842. Epub 2011 Jul 25.

Abstract

Exposure to adverse environments during early development is a known risk factor for several psychiatric conditions including antisocial behavior and personality disorders. Here, we induced social anxiety and altered social recognition memory in adult mice using unpredictable maternal separation and maternal stress during early postnatal life. We show that these social defects are not only pronounced in the animals directly subjected to stress, but are also transmitted to their offspring across two generations. The defects are associated with impaired serotonergic signaling, in particular, reduced 5HT1A receptor expression in the dorsal raphe nucleus, and increased serotonin level in a dorsal raphe projection area. These findings underscore the susceptibility of social behaviors and serotonergic pathways to early stress, and the persistence of their perturbation across generations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Breeding*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology

Substances

  • Serotonin