Stressor-provoked anxiety, plasma corticosterone, and variations of brain monoamine turnover are influenced by genetic factors, but may also be moderated by early life experiences. To evaluate the contribution of maternal influences, behavioral and neurochemical stress responses were assessed in strains of mice that were either stressor-reactive or -resilient (BALB/cByJ and C57BL/6ByJ, respectively) as well as in their reciprocal F1 hybrids. BALB/cByJ mice demonstrated poorer maternal behaviors than did C57BL/6ByJ dams, irrespective of the pups being raised (inbred or F1 hybrids). The BALB/cByJ mice appeared more anxious than C57BL/6ByJ mice, exhibiting greater reluctance to step-down from a platform and a greater startle response. Although the F1 behavior generally resembled that of the C57BL/6ByJ parent strain, in the step-down test the influence of maternal factors were initially evident among the F1 mice (particularly males) with a BALB/cByJ dam. However, over trials the C57BL/6ByJ-like behavior came to predominate. BALB/cByJ mice also exhibited greater plasma corticosterone elevations, 5-HT utilization in the central amygdala (CeA), and greater NE turnover in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN). Interestingly, among the F1's corticosterone and 5-HIAA in the CeA resembled that of the BALB/cByJ parent strain, whereas MHPG accumulation in the PVN was more like that of C57BL/6ByJ mice. It seems that, to some extent, maternal factors influenced anxiety responses in the hybrids, but did not influence the corticosterone or the monoamine variations. The inheritance profiles suggest that anxiety was unrelated to either the corticosterone or monoamine changes.
- Maternal factors