Early adverse life experiences have been associated with anxiety-like behavior and memory impairment. N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) play an important role in brain development. Enriched environments are known to positively influence emotional and cognitive functions in the brain. We examined the effects of maternal deprivation (MD) on NMDAR subunits in the hippocampus, locomotor activity, anxiety behaviors, and learning-memory performance of Balb/c mice. We also examined whether these effects could be reversed by raising the offspring in an enriched environment. The mice were separated from their mothers for a single 24h episode on postnatal day (PND) 9. The mice were weaned on day 21 and were housed under either standard (SE) or enriched (EE) environmental conditions. Emotional behaviors and cognitive processes of mice were evaluated using an open field (OF) test, an elevated plus maze (EPM) test, and a Morris water-maze (MWM). NMDAR subunits (GluN1, GluN2A, and GluN2B) mRNA expression levels in the hippocampus were examined by real-time PCR. In OF, MD had no effect on horizontal locomotor activity. MD increased anxiety-like behaviors in the EPM and decreased spatial learning performance in MWM; however, these effects were not reversed by EE. MD (in SE and EE conditions) increased GluN1, GluN2A, and GluN2B mRNA expressions in the hippocampus. In conclusion, MD led to the deterioration of the emotional and cognitive processes during adulthood. Moreover, environmental enrichment did not reverse the deleterious effects of the MD on emotional and cognitive functions and increased the NMDAR levels.
Brain Research – Elsevier
Published: Oct 22, 2015
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