Early life adversity in the form of poor postnatal care is a major developmental stressor impacting behavior later in life. Previous studies have shown the impact of early life stress on neurobehavioral abnormalities. Specifically, research has demonstrated how limited bedding and nesting (LBN) materials can cause behavioral deficits in adulthood. There is, however, a limited understanding of how LBN influences sex-specific neurobehavioral adaptation in adolescence, a developmental stage susceptible to psychiatric diseases including substance use disorder. LBN and stress-naive c57BL/6 adolescent male and female mouse offspring were tested for a battery of behaviors including open field, novel object recognition, elevated plus maze, social preference, and morphine-induced conditioned place preference. There was a significant sex-specific deficit in social preference in male mice exposed to LBN compared to stress-naïve counterparts and both LBN males and females had a higher preference towards the drug-paired chamber in the morphine-induced conditioned place preference test. These behavioral deficits were concomitant with sex-specific increases in the transcription factor, Klf9 in the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) of males. Further, mRNA levels of the circadian gene Bmal1, which is known to be transcriptionally regulated by Klf9, were decreased in the DCN. Since Bmal1 has recently been implicated in extracellular matrix modulation, we examined perineuronal nets (PNN) and observed depleted PNN in the DCN of males but not female LBN mice. Overall, we provide a novel understanding of how postpartum adversity impinges on the cerebellar extracellular matrix homeostasis, likely, through disruption of the circadian axis by Klf9 that might underlie sex-specific behavioral adaptations in adolescence.
- Perineuronal nets
- Postpartum adversity