Early maternal separation alters the response to traumatization: resulting in increased levels of hippocampal neurotrophic factors
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Early life adversity predisposes individuals to the development of psychopathology in later life, especially depression and anxiety disorders. Prior history of stressors may also be a vulnerability factor for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in response to trauma. We examined the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon by employing two animal stress models, early maternal separation followed by later time-dependent sensitization (TDS). In animals exposed to adult TDS, those with prior early adversity did not differ from controls on tests of anxiety (elevated plus maze, open field), or HPA function (ACTH and corticosterone levels). However, those with prior early adversity had increased levels of neurotrophic factors (BDNF, NGF and NT-3) in both the dorsal and ventral hippocampus. Although early adversity is known to be associated with negative effects on neuronal function, it may also be associated with an increased ability to respond to subsequent stressors with compensatory mechanisms such as increased neurotrophic factor release.
KeywordsRepeated stress Maternal separation Time-dependent sensitization Neurotrophic factor Hippocampus HPA axis Behaviour
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) of South Africa.
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