Transgenerational programming of maternal behaviour by prenatal stress

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Ward, Isaac D.
Zucchi, Fabiola C.R.
Robbins, Jerrah C.
Falkenberg, Erin A.
Olson, David M.
Benzies, Karen
Metz, Gerlinde A. S.
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BioMed Central
Peripartum events hold the potential to have dramatic effects in the programming of physiology and behaviour of offspring and possibly subsequent generations. Here we have characterized transgenerational changes in rat maternal behaviour as a function of gestational and prenatal stress. Pregnant dams of the parental generation were exposed to stress from days 12-18 (F0-S). Their daughters and grand-daughters were either stressed (F1-SS, F2-SSS) or non-stressed (F1-SN, F2-SNN). Maternal antepartum behaviours were analyzed at a time when pregnant dams usually show a high frequency of tail chasing behaviours. F1-SS, F2-SNN and F2-SSS groups showed a significant reduction in tail chasing behaviours when compared with controls. The effects of multigenerational stress (SSS) slightly exceeded those of transgenerational stress (SNN) and resulted in absence of tail chasing behaviour. These findings suggest that antepartum maternal behaviour in rats is programmed by transgenerational inheritance of stress responses. Thus, altered antepartum maternal behaviour may serve as an indicator of an activated stress response during gestation.
Sherpa Romeo green journal. Open access, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License
Prenatal stress , Maternal behaviour , Multigenerational stress , Transgenerational stress , Tail chasing behaviour , Rats , Stress response , Gestation
Ward, I.D., Zucchi, F.C.R., Robbins, J.C., Falkenberg, E.A., Olson, D.M., Benzies, K., & Metz, G.A. (2013). Transgenerational programming of maternal behaviour by prenatal stress. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 13(Suppl 1), 59. doi:10.1186/1471-2393--13-S1-S9