Early-life stress does not alter spatial memory performance, hippocampal neurogenesis, neuroinflammation, or telomere length in 20-month-old male mice

Janssen M. Kotah, Lianne Hoeijmakers, Erik Nutma, Paul J. Lucassen, Aniko Korosi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Early-life stress (ES) increases the risk for psychopathology and cognitive decline later in life. Because the neurobiological substrates affected by ES (i.e., cognition, neuroplasticity, and neuroinflammation) are also altered in aging, we set out to investigate if and how ES in the first week of life affects these domains at an advanced age, and how ES modulates the aging trajectory per se. We subjected C57BL/6j mice to an established ES mouse model from postnatal days 2–9. Mice underwent behavioral testing at 19 months of age and were sacrificed at 20 months to investigate their physiology, hippocampal neuroplasticity, neuroinflammation, and telomere length. ES mice, as a group, did not perform differently from controls in the open field or Morris water maze (MWM). Hippocampal neurogenesis and synaptic marker gene expression were not different in ES mice at this age. While we find aging-associated alterations to neuroinflammatory gene expression and telomere length, these were unaffected by ES. When integrating the current data with those from our previously reported 4- and 10-month-old cohorts, we conclude that ES leads to a ‘premature’ shift in the aging trajectory, consisting of early changes that do not further worsen at the advanced age of 20 months. This could be explained e.g. by a ‘floor’ effect in ES-induced impairments, and/or age-induced impairments in control mice. Future studies should help understand how exactly ES affects the overall aging trajectory.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100379
JournalNeurobiology of Stress
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

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