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Horm Behav. 2011 Jun;60(1):112-20. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.03.011. Epub 2011 Apr 2.

Behavioral effects of chronic adolescent stress are sustained and sexually dimorphic.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Evidence suggests that women are more susceptible to stress-related disorders than men. Animal studies demonstrate a similar female sensitivity to stress and have been used to examine the underlying neurobiology of sex-specific effects of stress. Although our understanding of the sex-specific effects of chronic adolescent stress has grown in recent years, few studies have reported the effects of adolescent stress on depressive-like behavior. The purpose of this study was to determine if a chronic mixed modality stressor (consisting of isolation, restraint, and social defeat) during adolescence (PND 37-49) resulted in differential and sustained changes in depressive-like behavior in male and female Wistar rats. Female rats exposed to chronic adolescent stress displayed decreased sucrose consumption, hyperactivity in the elevated plus maze, decreased activity in the forced swim test, and a blunted corticosterone response to an acute forced swim stress compared to controls during both adolescence (PND 48-57) and adulthood (PND 96-104). Male rats exposed to chronic adolescent stress did not manifest significant behavioral changes at either the end of adolescence or in adulthood. These data support the proposition that adolescence may be a stress sensitive period for females and exposure to stress during adolescence results in behavioral effects that persist in females. Studies investigating the sex-specific effects of chronic adolescent stress may lead to a better understanding of the sexually dimorphic incidence of depressive and anxiety disorders in humans and ultimately improve prevention and treatment strategies.

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