1. Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Dental Research Institute, Seoul National University School of Dentistry, Seoul, 110-768, Korea
2. Department of Brain Science, Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology, Dae Gu, 711-873, Korea
This study examined the effects of highly palatable food during adolescence on the psycho-emotional and neural disturbances caused by early life stress experience in female rats. Female Sprague-Dawley pups were separated from dam for 3 h daily during the first two weeks of birth (MS) or left undisturbed (NH). Half of MS females received free access to chocolate cookies in addition to ad libitum chow from postnatal day 28. Pups were subjected to the behavioral tests during young adulthood. The plasma corticosterone response to acute stress, ΔFosB and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in the brain regions were analyzed. Total caloric intake and body weight gain during the whole experimental period did not differ among the experimental groups. Cookie access during adolescence and youth improved anxiety-/depression-like behaviors by MS experience. ΔFosB expression was decreased, but BDNF was increased in the nucleus accumbens of MS females, and ΔFosB expression was normalized and BDNF was further increased following cookie access. Corticosterone response to acute stress was blunted by MS experience and cookie access did not improve it. Results suggest that cookie access during adolescence improves the psycho-emotional disturbances of MS females, and ΔFosB and/or BDNF expression in the nucleus accumbens may play a role in its underlying neural mechanisms.
Keywords: Early life stress, Highly palatable food, Nucleus accumbens, Female