An enhanced home cage modulates hypothalamic CRH-ir labeling in juvenile rats, with and without sub-threshold febrile convulsions

Dev Psychobiol. 2015 Apr;57(3):374-81. doi: 10.1002/dev.21300. Epub 2015 Mar 18.


Pre and postnatal environments can have a profound impact on offspring development. This is especially true when considering the origin of neurological diseases, including epilepsy, a relatively common and chronic neurological condition, affecting 1-2% of the population. Previously, we have used maternal stress and an enhanced home cage (EHC) in an effort to identify potential factors in the early environment that may increase the risk for experiencing seizures. First, pregnant Long-Evans rats were exposed to a predator stress (PS). Then, at birth, litters were divided into standard cage (SC) and EHC groups until postnatal Day 14 (PD14) when a model of febrile convulsions was used to determine convulsion susceptibility of the various groups. Twenty-four hours later, pup brains were processed for immunohistochemical detection of corticotrophic releasing hormone (CRH) in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. Analysis of CRH immunoreactive (-ir) patterns revealed a buffering of CRH-ir in EHC reared offspring. Further, experiencing convulsions led to decreased CRH-ir. Our results support the concept that postnatal environmental influences affect neonatal programming and neurodevelopment of processes that could underlie seizure susceptibility, and that these effects can be modulated by EHC conditions.

Keywords: HPA axis; early experience; mother-infant relations; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Seizures, Febrile / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology


  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone