2. Department of Biochemistry, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA.
3. Department of Psychology, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA.
4. Department of Biology, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA,
5. Biology of Behavior Institute (BoBI), University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA.
Maternal psychological disturbance has deleterious responses on the newborn. However, the consequences of periconceptional stress in females on the behavioral effects of the offsprings have not been well established. This study was carried out to determine the predisposition to psychotic-like effects among mice derived from mothers suffering stress before conception. Ten female mice were randomly selected to two different groups, a stressed induced group and a control undisturbed group. These female mice were housed together with males to encourage pregnancy. Female mice from the stressed group were exposed daily to randomized stress test protocols. All stress tests ceased before pups were born. After birth, pups were allowed to remain with the mother until weaned at 21 days. Testing for behavioral abnormalities related to cognition and anxiety was performed in mothers as well as offsprings to calculate predisposition to psychosis and anxiety among identically treated mice. Our results indicate that periconceptional induction of stress in young females results in anxiety. Moreover, this maternal stress translated in increased anxiety-like behaviors in their youths. These results suggest that offspring of mothers stressed before conception may show enhanced responsiveness to stress later in life, and indicate that prenatal stress may have long-term effect on behavioral reactivity. Thus, it is possible that the emotional status of an adult may be ruled not only by individual post-natal occurrences, but by other earlier environmental factors related to pre-pregnancy experiences.
Keywords: Schizophrenia, stress, cognition, learning, psychosis