Prenatal and adult stress interplay - behavioral implications

Tidsskriftartikel - 2010


The origin of adult behavior and the possible pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders remain elusive, but extensive research indicates that interaction of genes and environment play a crucial role for adult phenotype. Differences in susceptibility may arise by earlier experiences and genomic variables, either alone or in combination. The acoustic startle response (ASR) has been shown to be altered in patients with several psychiatric diseases, a change that could result from a persistent sensitization caused by chronic arousal secondary to a traumatic incident. The current work hypothesized that a single aversive procedure would induce long-term hyperactivity in the HPA-axis of rats that had become vulnerable by prenatal stress, and thereby change reactivity in the ASR. Prenatal stress was achieved by maternal gestational exposure to Chronic Mild Stress (CMS). At age 3 months, the offspring were blood sampled by a stressful procedure, and subsequently tested in the acoustic startle paradigm. Prenatal CMS strongly reduced prepulse inhibition (PPI) whereas postnatal blood sampling under restraint generally increased PPI. Our data demonstrate interplay between pre- and postnatal stressful events, but also that this interaction is complex and could influence the interplay between PPI and basal startle. Our results suggest that circumstances dating back to early development may have implications for adult life behavior, and based on this we propose a new theory of a threshold in the induction of a stress response in the ASR test, which influences whether the PPI or basal startle response will be affected.


Kjær SL, Wegener G, Rosenberg R, Lund SP, Hougaard KS. Prenatal and adult stress interplay - behavioral implications. Brain Research 2010;1320(12):106-113.
doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.01.008

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