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Brain Struct Funct. 2014 Nov;219(6):1983-90. doi: 10.1007/s00429-013-0617-4. Epub 2013 Aug 3.

Paternal deprivation affects the functional maturation of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)- and calbindin-D28k-expressing neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) of the biparental Octodon degus.

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Institute of Forensic Medicine, Medical University of Gdansk, ul. Sklodowskiej-Curie 3a, 80-210, Gdansk, Poland.


While the critical role of maternal care on the development of brain and behavior of the offspring has been extensively studied, our knowledge about the importance of paternal care for brain development of his offspring is still comparatively scarce. The aim of this study in the biparental caviomorph rodent Octodon degus was to analyze the impact of paternal care on the development of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)-expressing neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). Both brain areas are key players in neuronal circuits that regulate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) activity. At the age of postnatal day (PND) 21, we found that paternal deprivation resulted in a decreased density of CRH-containing neurons in the medial, but not in the lateral BNST, whereas no changes were observed in the PVN. These deprivation-induced changes were still prominent in adulthood. At PND 21, the density of Ca-binding protein calbindin D28K (CaBP-D28K)-expressing neurons was specifically increased in the medial, but not lateral BNST of father-deprived animals. In contrast, adult father-deprived animals show significantly decreased density of CaBP-D28K-expressing neurons in the lateral, but not medial BNST. Taken together, these results may have important implications for our understanding of the experience-driven development of neural circuits that regulate HPA activity mediating acute responses to stress and chronic anxiety.

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