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      Maternal adversity and ecological stressors in natural populations: the role of stress axis programming in individuals, with implications for populations and communities

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      Functional Ecology
      Wiley-Blackwell

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          Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior.

          Here we report that increased pup licking and grooming (LG) and arched-back nursing (ABN) by rat mothers altered the offspring epigenome at a glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene promoter in the hippocampus. Offspring of mothers that showed high levels of LG and ABN were found to have differences in DNA methylation, as compared to offspring of 'low-LG-ABN' mothers. These differences emerged over the first week of life, were reversed with cross-fostering, persisted into adulthood and were associated with altered histone acetylation and transcription factor (NGFI-A) binding to the GR promoter. Central infusion of a histone deacetylase inhibitor removed the group differences in histone acetylation, DNA methylation, NGFI-A binding, GR expression and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) responses to stress, suggesting a causal relation among epigenomic state, GR expression and the maternal effect on stress responses in the offspring. Thus we show that an epigenomic state of a gene can be established through behavioral programming, and it is potentially reversible.
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            How Do Glucocorticoids Influence Stress Responses? Integrating Permissive, Suppressive, Stimulatory, and Preparative Actions

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              Maternal care, hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress.

              Variations in maternal care affect the development of individual differences in neuroendocrine responses to stress in rats. As adults, the offspring of mothers that exhibited more licking and grooming of pups during the first 10 days of life showed reduced plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone and corticosterone responses to acute stress, increased hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor messenger RNA expression, enhanced glucocorticoid feedback sensitivity, and decreased levels of hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone messenger RNA. Each measure was significantly correlated with the frequency of maternal licking and grooming (all r's > -0.6). These findings suggest that maternal behavior serves to "program" hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress in the offspring.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Functional Ecology
                Funct Ecol
                Wiley-Blackwell
                02698463
                February 2013
                February 2013
                : 27
                : 1
                : 81-92
                Article
                10.1111/j.1365-2435.2012.02040.x
                cef8143b-8b33-471c-b58e-7a86202dc7f6
                © 2013

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1


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