Prenatal noise stress impairs HPA axis and cognitive performance in mice

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 5;7(1):10560. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09799-6.


Noise stress is a common environmental pollutant whose adverse effect on offspring performance has been less studied. This study was novel in terms of using "noise" as a prenatal stress compared with physical stress to explore the effect of stress during gestation on HPA axis activation, cognitive performance, and motor coordination, as well as in investigating the effect of behavioral assessments on the corticosterone (CORT) levels. Three groups of C57BL/6 mice with a gestational history of either noise stress (NS), physical stress (PS), or no stress were examined in several behavioral tests. Plasma CORT level was significantly higher before starting the behavioral tests in NS group than the two other groups. It was significantly increased after the behavioral tests in both prenatal stressed groups relative to the controls. Stress caused anxiety-like behavior and reduced learning and memory performance in both stressed groups compared to the controls, as well as decreased motor coordination in the NS group relative to the other groups. The findings suggested that: prenatal NS severely changes the HPA axis; both prenatal stressors, and particularly NS, negatively impair the offspring's cognitive and motor performance; and, they also cause a strong susceptibility to interpret environmental experiences as stressful conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition*
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Female
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology*
  • Postural Balance
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Corticosterone