Brain orchestration of pregnancy and maternal behavior in mice.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
D. A. BarriereM. Keller


Reproduction induces changes within brain to prepare for gestation and motherhood. However, the dynamic of these central changes and their relationships with the development of maternal behavior remain poorly understood. Here, we describe a longitudinal morphometric neuroimaging study in female mice between pre-gestation and weaning, using new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) resources comprising a high-resolution brain template, its associated tissue priors (60 microns isotropic resolution) and a corresponding mouse brain atlas (1320 regions of interest). Using these tools, we observed transient hypertrophies not only within key regions controlling gestation and maternal behavior (medial preoptic area, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis), but also in the amygdala, caudate nucleus and hippocampus. Additionally, unlike females exhibiting lower levels of maternal care, highly maternal females developed transient hypertrophies in somatosensory, entorhinal and retrosplenial cortices among other regions. Therefore, coordinated and transient brain modifications associated with maternal performance occurred during gestation and lactation.

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