Preconceptional paternal exposure to a single traumatic event affects postnatal growth of female but not male offspring

Neuroreport. 2013 Oct 23;24(15):856-60. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000007.


Although preconceptional and periconceptional maternal stress is a recognized risk factor for offspring neurodevelopmental disturbances, less is known about the relevance of paternal exposures. These have hitherto been investigated mainly with respect to substance-induced impairment in the progeny. In recent years, experiential influences on offspring have come into focus through growing insight into epigenetic mechanisms such as nongenetic modes of transmission. The effect of chronic and/or early manipulations in males has been studied but much less is known about the potential impact of singular manipulations in older individuals. We investigated the influence of a strong stressor exposure, reminiscent of a traumatic event, in adult male mice on offspring behavior. Male mice, 6 weeks of age, received a strong footshock and were mated to naïve females several weeks later. Male and female offspring were investigated in a variety of tests for anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors. In addition, bodyweight development was assessed. Although we did not observe any alterations in anxiety-like and depressive-like behavioral indices, we recorded reduced bodyweight development in the female offspring. Our data emphasize the relevance of sex as a (co)determinant of outcomes in the wake of parental manipulations. They further suggest that the window of vulnerability for the induction of patrilinear effects might be wider than that currently assumed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Paternal Exposure*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Physiological*