Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mice Influenced By Traumatic 'Childhood' Experiences

Date:
November 6, 2007
Source:
Leiden University
Summary:
How does the experience of traumatic stress in childhood affect one's life in subsequent years? One young scientist has achieved some remarkable results with mice, but cannot yet say anything about humans.

A mother mouse having been reunited with her litter.
Credit: Image courtesy of Leiden University

How does the experience of traumatic stress in childhood affect one’s life in subsequent years? Leo Enthoven, a PhD student at the Leiden / Amsterdam Center for Drug Research (LACDR) and Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) studied this subject in a laboratory animal model. He has achieved some remarkable results with mice, but cannot yet say anything about humans.

Related Articles


Depression

‘The immediate indication for conducting this research is the presence of a subgroup of patients with complaints of severe depression,’ Enthoven explains. ’Correlated analyses have shown that the majority of this group of depressed patients have suffered traumatic experiences in their childhoods. This may vary from neglect to war experiences.’

Genetic background

Leo Enthoven said, ’I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what happens‘. The depression may be partly explained as having a genetic background. ‘The patients with these complaints are already more sensitive to depression compared to people with similar experiences who have no such complaints. The early traumatic childhood experience probably causes these people to develop depression if they suffer a stressful experience later in life. It is difficult to determine exactly what occurs in their brains to make them react in such a way.

Stress

Enthoven continued, ‘In humans, it is not possible to determine the neural and molecular causes, as you cannot conduct such experiments on human beings. We do know, however, that the child-parent interaction is extremely important.’ He therefore conducted his research on mice and rats. During a period of eight hours Enthoven removed the mother from her litter of mice. These eight hours are of crucial importance, as the mother is usually absent for a shorter period of time to look for food, for example. The baby mice reacted with a stress response. Removing the mother again on the following days, however, hardly met with any reaction. ’Apparently, the tiny animals had learnt so fast and at a such a young age that the mother was bound to return.

Scent of the nest

The rest of the experiment was more remarkable. At this stage Enthoven compared three groups of mice with different traumatic ‘childhood’ experiences. He placed five-day-old mice individually in a new cage for thirty minutes, removing them from their mother, their siblings and the scent of their nests. As was expected, this produced no reaction as earlier experiments had shown that mice up to twelve days old do not react with stress to such a change.

New cage

The second group consisted of mice which, before being placed in the new cage, had first been separated from the mother for eight hours. As expected, this group certainly reacted to the new cage with a stress response. The third group was also placed in a new cage after having been separated from the mother for eight hours. However, this group had already been separated from the mother on the two previous days. This group had not reacted to the eight hour separation but, to Enthoven’s surprise, they reacted all the more intensely to the following thirty minutes in the new cage.

Cognitive performances

Enthoven said, ’I haven’t been able to pinpoint what happens exactly, but there is every indication that something has changed in the brain. Apparently they are able to learn and trust that the mother will return and at the same time they become more alert to stressful situations.’ The body reacts to stressful situations by producing corticosteron which affects cognitive capacity and memory function. In experiments conducted with the same mice half a year later following these traumatic experiences in their early ‘childhood’, their cognitive performances appear to have developed differently compared to the mice without such traumatic experiences.

Skating on thin ice

Repeated stress situations affect the corticosteron production in the body and this in turn has an adverse effect on the development of the brain. It is, however, premature to draw far-reaching conclusions based on this research and the data can certainly not be extrapolated to the human condition. ’That would equivalent to skating on this ice. But I do, however, believe that this research has come up with useful results which justify further research.’


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Leiden University. The original article was written by Hilje Papma. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Leiden University. "Mice Influenced By Traumatic 'Childhood' Experiences." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071105160221.htm>.
Leiden University. (2007, November 6). Mice Influenced By Traumatic 'Childhood' Experiences. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071105160221.htm
Leiden University. "Mice Influenced By Traumatic 'Childhood' Experiences." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071105160221.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins