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Adolescent stress impairs postpartum social behavior via anterior insula-prelimbic pathway in mice

Adolescent stress impairs postpartum social behavior

Authors: Kyohei Kin, Jose Francis-Oliveira, Shin-ichi Kano & Minae Niwa
Publication: Nature Communications
Date: May 23, 2023
Link to article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-38799-6


In a recent study by Kyohei Kin et al., the impact of adolescent psychosocial stress on postpartum social behavior was examined. Using innovative techniques such as optogenetics and in vivo microendoscopic calcium imaging with the inscopix nVoke system, the researchers explored the functional relevance of the AI-PrL pathway on PrL neuronal activity. The findings revealed that social isolation during adolescence, combined with pregnancy and delivery, resulted in a hypofunction of the AI-PrL pathway. This disruption caused changes in PrL activity patterns and led to behavioral alterations in social novelty recognition during the postpartum period. the study emphasized the significance of appropriate social behavior for mothers in interpreting social cues and ensuring their own safety as well as the safety of their offspring. The hypofunction of the AI-PrL pathway impaired the mothers’ ability to recognize social cues during social novelty recognition. The researchers identified a specific group of neurons called stable neurons in PrL that were affected by the AI-PrL pathway and contributed to these behavioral changes. Furthermore, the study highlighted the potential involvement of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling in the AI-PrL pathway. Knocking out GR specifically in the AI-PrL pathway alleviated the neuronal activity changes in the PrL of stressed dams. This suggests that the sustained elevation of corticosterone during the postpartum period, induced by social isolation, played a significant role in the observed social behavioral changes. These findings deepen our understanding of how adolescent stress, pregnancy, and delivery collectively influence postpartum social behavior. By unraveling the neural mechanisms underlying these behavioral changes, this research opens up new possibilities for exploring interventions and treatments for individuals experiencing postpartum challenges.

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