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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Behav. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00198

Effects of environmental enrichment in maternally separated rats: age and sex specific outcomes.

  • 1Ponce Research Institute, Ponce Health Sciences University, Puerto Rico
  • 2University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico
  • 3School of Medicine, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, United States
  • 4School of Arts and Sciences, Tufts University, United States
  • 5Neuroscience and Human Genetics, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg, United States

Maternal separation (MS) early in life is related to an increase in anxiety and depressive-like behaviors and neurobiological alterations mostly related to alterations in HPA axis reactivity. Environmental enrichment (EE) has been used to ameliorate the effects of MS. However, the outcomes of this intervention at different developmental periods after MS have not been studied. We subjected male and female Sprague Dawley pups to maternal separation and subsequently compared the effects of EE started either in the pre-pubertal period (postnatal day 22) or adulthood (postnatal day 78). Anxiety and depressive-like behaviors as well as in hippocampal synaptic density and basal corticosterone, oxytocin, and vasopressin levels were measured. Our results support the beneficial effects of adulthood EE in decreasing anxiety in males as well as promoting synaptic density in ventral hippocampal CA3. Males displayed higher levels of vasopressin while females displayed higher oxytocin, with no changes in basal corticosterone for any group after EE.

Keywords: maternal separation (MS), Environmental enrichment (EE), Synaptophysin, Anxiety, Depression, Oxytocin, vasopressin

Received: 21 Feb 2019; Accepted: 13 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Doreste-Mendez, Rios-Ruiz, Rivera-Lopez, Gutierrez and Torres-Reveron. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Annelyn Torres-Reveron, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg, Neuroscience and Human Genetics, Edinburg, 00716-2348, Puerto Rico, United States,