Investigating the effects of ancestral stress, environmental enrichment and the concept of allostatic load

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McCreary, J. Keiko
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Neuroscience
The stress that our ancestors experienced resonates with us in their stories, and memoires, but does it affect our health? In this thesis, the impact of ancestral stress on offspring was investigated. We hypothesized that ancestral stress has a significant impact on the development of the stress response, neuromorphology, and behaviour. Moreover, as stress is multi-systematic in its effects, this study examined the use of a new stratification tool termed the cumulative animal allostatic load index (CAALM). In addition, we tested the influence of postnatal enriched environment (EE) on ancestral stress-induced deficits. Lastly, we investigated a “two-hit hypothesis” of maternal stress and inflammation on offspring development. Overall, results indicate that ancestral stress is transferred across generations and increases allostatic load, and EE reverses detrimental effects. Moreover, inflammation exacerbates the effect of stress. Altogether, our results shed light on the influence of maternal and ancestral health on offspring development and the benefit of EE.
allostatic load , ancestral stress , enriched environment , inflammation , maternal stress , offspring development