Prenatal stress effects on emotion regulation differ by genotype and sex in prepubertal rats

Mariana Schroeder, Tom Sultany, Aron Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Behavioral effects of different prenatal stress (PNS) schedules were examined in prepubertal "depressive/anxious-like" WKY and control Wistar rats. Pregnant dams received 1hr daily restraint stress on gestational days 14-20 or on 7 randomly scheduled days, or remained undisturbed. Offspring were tested during postnatal days 29-35 in social play, forced swim-test, open field, and novelty tests. PNS induced an increase in anxiety-like behaviors in WKY, particularly in females, while seemingly reducing depressive-like behavior in the swim test. However, very high post-stress corticosterone levels were found, suggesting that the reductions in swim-test immobility reflect an extremely over-responsive HPA axis, rather than normalization in stress reactivity leading to a less depressive-like profile. In Wistar, PNS produced weight loss, hyperactivity and risk taking behavior, especially in males. The results support the importance of the environment during gestation and its interaction with sex and genetics on long-term anxiety and depressive like behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-192
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Animal model of depression
  • Anxiety
  • Prenatal stress
  • Prepubertal rats
  • Sex differences


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