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Neurobiologists find chronic stress in early life causes anxiety, aggression in adulthood
Date:3/27/2014

Cold Spring Harbor, NY -- In recent years, behavioral neuroscientists have debated the meaning and significance of a plethora of independently conducted experiments seeking to establish the impact of chronic, early-life stress upon behavior both at the time that stress is experienced, and upon the same individuals later in life, during adulthood.

These experiments, typically conducted in rodents, have on the one hand clearly indicated a link between certain kinds of early stress and dysfunction in the neuroendocrine system, particularly in the so-called HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal), which regulates the endocrine glands and stress hormones including corticotropin and glucocorticoid.

Yet the evidence is by no means unequivocal. Stress studies in rodents have also clearly identified a native capacity, stronger in some individuals than others, and seemingly weak or absent in still others, to bounce back from chronic early-life stress. Some rodents subjected to early life stress have no apparent behavioral consequences in adulthood they are disposed neither to anxiety nor depression, the classic pathologies understood to be induced by stress in certain individuals.

Today, a research team led by Associate Professor Grigori Enikolopov of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) reports online in the journal PlOS One the results of experiments designed to assess the impacts of social stress upon adolescent mice, both at the time they are experienced and during adulthood. Involving many different kinds of stress tests and means of measuring their impacts, the research indicates that a "hostile environment in adolescence disturbs psychoemotional state and social behaviors of animals in adult life," the team says.

The tests began with 1-month-old male mice the equivalent, in human terms of adolescents -- each placed for 2 weeks in a cage shared with an aggressive adult male. The animals were separated by a tra
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Contact: Peter Tarr
tarr@cshl.edu
516-367-5055
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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