Early life stress during the neonatal period alters social play and Line1 during the juvenile stage of development

Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 11;11(1):3549. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-82953-3.


Early life stress (ELS) has been shown to have a significant impact on typical brain development and the manifestation of psychological disorders through epigenetic modifications that alter gene expression. Line1, a retrotransposon associated with genetic diversity, has been linked with various psychological disorders that are associated with ELS. Our previous work demonstrated altered Line1 DNA copy number in the neonatal period following stressful experiences; we therefore chose to investigate whether early life stress altered Line1 retrotransposition persists into the juvenile period of development. Our study uses a neonatal predator odor exposure (POE) paradigm to model ELS in rats. We examined Line1 using qPCR to assess Line1 expression levels and DNA copy number in the male and female juvenile amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex-areas chosen for their association with affective disorders and stress. We report a sex difference in Line1 levels within the juvenile amygdala. We also find that ELS significantly increases Line1 DNA copy number within the juvenile amygdala which correlates with reduced juvenile social play levels, suggesting the possibility that Line1 may influence juvenile social development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences*
  • Amygdala / growth & development
  • Amygdala / metabolism
  • Amygdala / pathology
  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / pathology
  • DNA Copy Number Variations / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Long Interspersed Nucleotide Elements / genetics*
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology
  • Rats
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Stress, Psychological / genetics*
  • Stress, Psychological / pathology