Maternal Programming of Defensive Responses Through Sustained Effects on Gene Expression

Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN (Impact Factor: 5.86). 07/2007; 32(4). DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306255.003.0007


There are profound maternal effects on individual differences in defensive responses in species ranging from plants to insects to birds. In this paper, we review data from the rat that suggest comparable forms of maternal effects on defensive responses to stress, which are mediated by the effects of variations in maternal behaviour on gene expression. Under conditions of environmental adversity, maternal effects enhance the capacity for defensive responses in the offspring. These effects appear to "program" emotional, cognitive and endocrine systems toward increased sensitivity to adversity. In environments with an increased level of adversity, such effects can be considered adaptive, enhancing the capacity for responses that have immediate adaptive value; the cost is an increased risk for multiple forms of pathology in later life.

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    • "64 A. Sequeira-Cordero et al. / Behavioural Brain Research 237 (2013) 63– 70 limbic regions such as the hippocampus (HPC), cortical structures such as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and striatal subregions such as the nucleus accumbens (NAc) [13] [15] [16]. Differential maternal care investment has a profound impact on hippocampal function affecting the expression of hundreds of genes [11] [17]. One of these genes is the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) [18] [19] [20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal care plays an important role as an early modeler of neurodevelopment and brain function, and its effects remain until adulthood. Such modeling or programming has shown to influence the stress response and represents a key susceptibility factor in the development of mood disorders. In order to characterize such process which is still not clear, male offspring were classified in animals with low, medium and high licking/grooming (LG) according to the maternal behavior. Juvenile animals were subjected to the open field test (OFT) and the forced swimming test (FST), and offspring of low and high LG mothers were compared. Seven days after the FST, neurochemical and gene expression analyses were carried out in order to identify possible changes on relevant targets. Maternal care did determine locomotor behaviors in the OFT, supporting an anxiogenic effect of low maternal investment. This effect seems to be associated with the serotonergic systems in both nucleus accumbens (NAc) and hippocampus (HPC), since offspring of low LG mothers showed decreased 5-HT neurotransmission in those brain regions compared with animals of high LG mothers. Furthermore, TrkB expression was higher in offspring of high LG compared to the group of low LG mothers, supporting its influence as a mechanistic intermediate of such effect, at least in the NAc. Taken together, these findings strongly support the influence of differential maternal care on the neurodevelopment and responsivity of juvenile rats.
    Behavioural brain research 09/2012; 237C(1):63-70. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2012.09.028 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: After placing the study of behavioral syndromes into historical perspective and clarifying some misconceptions about the term, the aim of this chapter is to illustrate some of the important questions that come into focus when viewing animal behavior through "behavioral syndromes lenses." In general, we see two particularly exciting research directions. One of these focuses on trying to understand variation in behavioral syndromes. The other applies the behavioral syndromes approach to topics of interest to behavioral ecologists that have not historically focused on individual variation: For any given behavior, do individuals behave consistently differently from each other? If so, are those differences correlated across contexts? The next major task in studies of behavioral syndromes themselves is to quantify and explain the patterns of variation in behavioral syndromes. As a first step, for example, we would like to know which behaviors tend to occur in clusters and which tend to be independent? When do correlations break down over ontogenetic and evolutionary time? Then, the challenge is to explain those patterns from both a proximate and ultimate perspective- how does selection act on differences in the lability of proximate mechanisms to produce variable correlations? At the same time, we expect that the next major wave of studies on behavioral syndromes will apply these ideas to understand topics of interest to behavioral ecologists, things like mate choice, cooperation, and group living. We described several relatively understudied axes of behavioral variation, for example environmental and social sensitivity, learning, choosiness, cooperativeness, etc, all of which could offer new insights into long-standing questions. Along the way, we highlighted other priorities for research such as consideration of nonbehavioral traits such as physiology and morphology as part of an integrated phenotype and the inclusion of conceptual (e.g., dynamic programming, network theory, and path analysis) and empirical (e.g., genomics) tools.
    Advances in the Study of Behavior, 01/2008: pages 227-281;
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