Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High levels of maternal care has life-long impact on vulnerability to stress, study says

Date:
December 12, 2013
Source:
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Summary:
A new study shows that high levels of maternal care during the early post-natal period in rodents can reduce the sensitivity of the offspring to stressful events during adulthood. Maternal care is shown to chemically modify and thereby re-program genes that control stress responses, making them less likely to be activated. The findings have important implications for understanding early environment influences on stress-related disorders.

A new study shows that high levels of maternal care during the early post-natal period in rodents can reduce the sensitivity of the offspring to stressful events during adulthood. Maternal care is shown to chemically modify and thereby re-program genes that control stress responses making them less likely to be activated. The findings have important implications for understanding early environment influences on stress-related disorders.

Early life experience, particularly quality of maternal care and sensory input from the mother, can influence vulnerability or resilience to mental and cognitive problems later in life, but little is known about how this occurs.

In a new study, led by Tallie Z. Baram from the University of California at Irvine, the effects maternal care on stress systems in the brain, which are thought to influence vulnerability to depression, were investigated in laboratory rats. The authors separated rat pups from their mothers for a short time every day for a week. This led to intense maternal care every day when pups and mother-rats were reunited. The activity of neurons that produce the stress chemical corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) were then examined in the brains of these offspring and compared with those from control offspring.

It was found that enhanced quality of maternal care experienced by the pups reduced the excitability of CRH-producing stress neurons in their brains. This effect was also associated with reduced activity of stress-associated genes in these neurons. The reduced activity of stress-related genes resulted from altered activity of a protein called NRSF, an important regulator of gene expression in the brain. This rewiring of brain stress circuits in rats pups that receive enhanced quality of maternal care was associated with activation of stress-related genes later in life in response to a stressful event.

This study provides a mechanism that may explain the beneficial effects of maternal care on resilience to stress-related disorders. According to Dr. Baram. "The findings show a direct causal effect of sensory input from the mother on the function of stress handling throughout life, and pinpoint the molecular changes involved. They also show plasticity of the wiring of the infant brain."

There are important future implications of the study for those who may be vulnerable to depression. "If we figure out exactly how cells regulate their stress molecules, we can modify and improve the function of the stress system in individuals who have not benefited from optimal early life environment, and perhaps prevent vulnerability to stress-related mental and cognitive problems," said Dr. Baram.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. "High levels of maternal care has life-long impact on vulnerability to stress, study says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212100043.htm>.
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. (2013, December 12). High levels of maternal care has life-long impact on vulnerability to stress, study says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212100043.htm
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. "High levels of maternal care has life-long impact on vulnerability to stress, study says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212100043.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. 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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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