Female Early Adult Depression Results in Detrimental Impacts on the Behavioral Performance and Brain Development in Offspring


  • The first two authors contributed equally to this work.

Gang Hu, M.D., Ph.D., Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Neurodegeneration, Department of Pharmacology, Nanjing Medical University, 140 Hanzhong Road, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210029, China. Tel: +86-25-86863169; Fax: +86-25-86863108; E-mail: ghu@njmu.edu.cn


Aims: The present study was to understand whether early adult depressive females implicated their offspring. Methods: Seven-week-old female mice were subject to chronic mild stress (CMS) to establish the animal model of depression. The behavioral performance of their offspring were tested via neonatal reflexes tests, hole-board test, and morris water maze test in different ages. Astrocyte number, hippocampal volume, and neurogenesis were analyzed via immunohistochemical blotting. Glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression and serum cortisol levels were measured by western blotting and ELISA. Results: Female depressive mice had normal fertility, but their offspring had lowered neonatal survival rate and body weight from neonatal period to early adulthood. The offspring of female depressive mice exhibited the impairments of neonatal reflex attainment and memory, but had higher emotionality as adults. Furthermore, the astrocyte number, hippocampal volume, and neurogenesis were reduced in the offspring. However, the expressions of GR were increased in the hippocampus of offspring. Conclusion: This study reveals that female early adult depressive mice have normal reproductive ability, but make long-term detrimental impacts on the behavioral performance and brain development of their offspring.