Altered hypothalamic DNA methylation and stress-induced hyperactivity in a novel model of early life stress

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
E. FitzgeraldAmanda J Drake


Early life stress during childhood is associated with a number of psychiatric disorders that manifest across the life course. Preterm birth is a profound stressor, and an important cause of cognitive impairment, as well as neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. However, the mechanisms that link events during the early neonatal period with later functional problems are poorly understood. We developed a novel mouse model of early life stress (modified maternal separation; MMS) with specific relevance to preterm birth (PTB) and hypothesised it would affect the hypothalamic transcriptome and DNA methylome and impact on behaviour in adulthood. MMS consisted of repeatedly stimulating pups for 1.5 hours/day, whilst separated from their mother, from postnatal day (P)4-6. 3' RNA sequencing and DNA methylation immunoprecipitation (meDIP) sequencing was performed on the hypothalamus at P6. Behaviour was assessed with the elevated plus and open field mazes, and in-cage monitoring at 3-4 months of age. Although MMS was only associated with subtle changes in gene expression there were widespread alterations in DNA methylation. Notably, differentially methylated regions were enriched for synapse-associated loci. MMS also resulted in hy...Continue Reading

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