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Dev Psychobiol. 1994 Jul;27(5):301-16.

Behavioral and hormonal responses to stress in the newborn mouse: effects of maternal deprivation and chlordiazepoxide.

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Laboratorio di Fisiopatologia di Organo e di Sistema Instituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma, Italy.


These studies investigated behavioral and hormonal responses to stress in developing mice. Experiment 1 examined the effects of 24-hr maternal deprivation on corticosterone (CORT) secretion and ultrasonic vocalization (UVZ) rate in 4-, 8-, and 12-day-old mice. At these ages, exposure to a novel environment resulted in minimal changes in CORT secretion. Maternal deprivation increased pups' CORT secretion in an age-dependent fashion but did not affect their UVZ rate. The aim of experiment 2 was to test the effects of chlordiazepoxide (CDP), an anxiolytic compound, on CORT secretion and UVZ in both normally reared and in maternally deprived 8-day-old mice. CDP administration elevated CORT secretion in a dose-dependent fashion, producing larger CORT increases in deprived (DEP) animals. CDP affected UVZ only in nondeprived (NDEP) animals: UVZ rate was decreased by high CDP doses. Overall, these findings demonstrate that the infant mouse shows a period of stress hyporesponsiveness similar to the rat and that maternal presence contributes to inhibit adrenocortical activity. CDP administration, but not novelty exposure, increased CORT secretion in 8-day-old normally reared mice suggesting that during the stress hyporesponsive period, the HPA axis is capable of responding only to specific stimuli. Changes in HPA axis activity and UVZ rate resulting from maternal deprivation and/or CDP challenge do not seem to be directly related.

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