These studies investigated behavioral and hormonal responses to stress in developing mice. Experiment 1 examined the effects of 24-hr maternal deprivation on corticosterone (CORT) secretion and ultrasonic vocalization (UVZ) rate in 4-, 8-, and 12-day-old mice. At these ages, exposure to a novel environment resulted in minimal changes in CORT secretion. Maternal deprivation increased pups′ CORT secretion in an age-dependent fashion but did not affect their UVZ rate.

The aim of experiment 2 was to test the effects of cholordiazepoxide (CDP), an anxyolytic compound, on CORT secretion and UVZ in both normally reared and in maternally deprived 8-day-old mice. CDP administration elevated CORT increases in deprived (DEP) animals. CDP affected UVZ only in nondcprived (NDEP) animals: UVZ ratewas decreased by high CDP doses

Overall, these findings demonstrate that the infant mouse shows a period of stress hyp9oresponsiveness similar to the rat and that maternal presence contributes to inhibit adrenocorticalactivity. CDP administration, butnot novelty exposure, increased CORT secretion in 8-day- old normally reared mice suggesting that during the stress hyporesponsive period, the HPA axis is capable of responding only to specific stimuli. Changes in HPA axis activity and UVZ rateresulting from maternal deprivation and/or CDP challenge do not seem to be directly related. ©1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.