Female rats are resilient to the behavioral effects of maternal separation stress and exhibit stress-induced neurogenesis

Heliyon. 2020 Aug 21;6(8):e04753. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04753. eCollection 2020 Aug.


Early-life stress causes anxiogenesis and sensitivity of stress endocrine axis, facilitated by changes in the basolateral amygdala and hippocampal neurogenesis. In this report, we examined if male-like relationship between early-life stress and anxiety was recapitulated in female rats, along with related neurobiological substrates of the amygdala and the hippocampus. Maternal separation, a paradigm consistently utilized in male rats in most previously published scripts, did not cause similar behavioral consequences in females. Maternal separation caused an increase in adult hippocampal neurogenesis in females without causing substantial differences in dendritic arbors of the basolateral amygdala. Thus, female rats displayed remarkable resilience in the emotional consequences of early-life stress.

Keywords: Amygdala; Anxiety; Behavioral neuroscience; Cellular neuroscience; Early-life; Gender; Hypertrophy; Nervous system; Neurogenesis.