Stress during gestation induces lasting effects on emotional reactivity of the dam rat

Muriel Darnaudéry, Isabelle Dutriez, Odile Viltart, Sara Morley-Fletcher, Stefania Maccari
Behavioural Brain Research. 2004-08-01; 153(1): 211-216
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2003.12.001

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Human and animal studies indicate that repeated stress during pregnancy can
produce long-term biological and behavioural disorders in the offspring. In
contrast, although maternal stress is supposed to induce an increase of maternal
anxiety, few studies have been conducted to demonstrate it. Therefore, in the
present study we examined the emotional reactivity in stressed (chronic restraint
stress applied 3 x 45 min per day during the last week of pregnancy) and
unstressed females rats after the weaning of their pups. Restraint stress
procedure reduced the body weight gain both during pregnancy and up to four weeks
after the stress period. Stressed dams presented a reduction of exploration and
of corticosterone levels when exposed to a novel environment (25 and 49 days
post-stress). They spent less time in the open arms of the elevated plus-maze (26
days post-stress). Finally, they showed no increase in the time spent in
immobility after a second exposure to the forced-swim test (35-36 days
post-stress). In the contrary, such differences were not observed when the
chronic stress procedure was applied on virgin females. Overall, our results show
that, chronic stress during gestation induces lasting effects on emotional
reactivity of the dams, thus indicating that gestation constitutes a critical
period in the vulnerability to stressful events also for the mother.

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2003.12.001
PMID: 15219722 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus