Unstable Maternal Environment Affects Stress Response in Adult Mice in a Genotype-Dependent Manner

Matteo Di Segni, Diego Andolina, Alessandra Luchetti, Lucy Babicola, Lina Ilaras D'Apolito, Tiziana Pascucci, David Conversi, Alessandra Accoto, Francesca R. D'Amato, Rossella Ventura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early postnatal events exert powerful effects on development, inducing persistent functional alterations in different brain network, such as the catecholamine prefrontal-accumbal system, and increasing the risk of developing psychiatric disorders later in life. However, a vast body of literature shows that the interaction between genetic factors and early environmental conditions is crucial for expression of psychopathologies in adulthood. We evaluated the long-lasting effects of a repeated cross-fostering (RCF) procedure in 2 inbred strains of mice (C57BL/6J, DBA/2), known to show a different susceptibility to the development and expression of stress-induced psychopathologies. Coping behavior (forced swimming test) and preference for a natural reinforcing stimulus (saccharine preference test) were assessed in adult female mice of both genotypes. Moreover, c-Fos stress-induced activity was assessed in different brain regions involved in stress response. In addition, we evaluated the enduring effects of RCF on catecholamine prefrontal-accumbal response to acute stress (restraint) using, for the first time, a new "dual probes" in vivo microdialysis procedure in mouse. RCF experience affects behavioral and neurochemical responses to acute stress in adulthood in opposite direction in the 2 genotypes, leading DBA mice toward an "anhedonic-like" phenotype and C57 mice toward an increased sensitivity for a natural reinforcing stimulus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4370-4380
Number of pages11
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2016


  • anhedonia
  • dopamine
  • early environment
  • inbred strains
  • mice, prefrontal-accumbal system
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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