Maternal programming of sexual attractivity in female Long Evans rats

Department of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
Psychoneuroendocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.94). 03/2011; 36(8):1217-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.02.016
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In mammals, maternal care influences the developing offspring across multiple domains. In Long Evans rats, for example, the quality of maternal care received as a pup influences later cognitive function, neuroendocrine responses to stress and behavioral measures of emotionality. Data from humans, non-human primates, and rodents also suggest that early life events may similarly perturb measures of sexual reproduction, with possible consequences for reproductive fitness. The current study examined whether or not male conspecifics differentially prefer females, as adult mating partners, that were reared under varying maternal conditions (assessed via the quantity of licking and grooming received; LG). Additionally, the impact of maternal care on adult female sexual motivation and behavior were quantified to determine if these behavioral characteristics are associated with any preference observed. In a mate preference task, male rats chose, almost exclusively, to mount, copulate and ejaculate with female rats reared under Low LG conditions. Under non-paced mating conditions, female Low LG rats display significantly more paracopulatory and copulatory behaviors compared to High LG rats. Due to its critical role in female paracopulatory behavior, progesterone receptor immunoreactivity (PR-ir) in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH) was also assessed in both groups of female rats. Estradiol induced PR-ir in the VMH was significantly higher in Low LG relative to High LG rats. Together, these data suggests that early life parental care may developmentally program aspects of behavior and physiology that subsequently influence sexual attractivity and behavior in adult females.

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Available from: Lance J Kriegsfeld, Feb 13, 2014
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    • "s , neu - ronal survival , HPA functioning and stress reactivity , sociality and reproductive behavior ( Bredy , Grant , Champagne , & Meaney , 2003 ; Cameron et al . , 2008 ; Champagne et al . , 2008 ; Engert , Joober , Meaney , Hell - hammer , & Pruessner , 2009 ; Fish et al . , 2004 ; Francis , Champagne , & Meaney , 2000 ; Liu et al . , 2000 ; Sakhai et al . , 2011 ; Starr - Phillips & Beery , 2014 ; Zhang et al . , 2005 ) . In humans , a correlation between early - life experiences and cognitive function also suggests a putative role for early - experiences in PFC development ."
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    ABSTRACT: Stress influences a wide variety of outcomes including cognitive processing. In the rat, early life maternal care can influence developing offspring to affect both stress reactivity and cognitive processes in adulthood. The current study assessed if variations in early life maternal care can influence cognitive performance on a task, the ability to switch cognitive sets, dependent on the medial prefrontal cortex. Early in life, offspring was reared under High or Low maternal Licking conditions. As adults, they were trained daily and then tested on an attentional set-shifting task (ASST), which targets cognitive flexibility in rodents. Stress-sensitive behavioral and neural markers were assayed before and after the ASST. High and Low Licking offspring performed equally well on the ASST despite initial, but not later, differences in stress axis functioning. These results suggest that early life maternal care does not impact the accuracy of attentional set-shifting in rats. These findings may be of particular importance for those interested in the relationship between early life experience and adult cognitive function. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Developmental Psychobiology 08/2015; DOI:10.1002/dev.21343 · 3.31 Impact Factor
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    • "First, the combination of METH and EB + P increased the number of PR immunoreactive cells to levels greater than either one alone, suggesting that enhanced PR signaling in the MePD may underlie the facilitation of proceptive behaviors. Indeed, a positive correlation has been reported between PR expression in the VMN and the degree of proceptive behaviors ; female rats that display more proceptive behaviors have a higher induction of PR in the VMN following estradiol-treatment (Sakhai et al., 2011). Second, administration of RU486 into the MePD prevented the enhancement of female sexual behavior by METH without affecting basal proceptive or receptive behaviors, indicating that METH interacts with ovarian steroids at the level of the PR. "
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    • "These differences in turn are associated with differences in DNA methylation: High-LG behaviour is associated with lower levels of methylation of the ERa gene, which is associated with higher levels of ERa transcription; low-LG behaviour is associated with higher levels of ERa gene methylation and lower levels of gene transcription (Cameron et al., 2008). Female offspring of low-LG mothers also exhibit increased sexual receptivity; increased levels of plasma luteinizing hormone, which regulates a number of aspects of the female menstrual cycle and accelerated puberty compared to offspring of high-LG mothers (Sakhai et al., 2011). There is evidence that human "
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